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Newfane property tax rate stays the same

NEWFANE – The $33 million budget proposed by the Newfane Board of Education boasts a zero percent property tax rate increase for 2015-16. The board will present the budget in a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Newfane Early Childhood Center, 6048 Godfrey Road, Olcott.

The public will vote on the proposal from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19 at the Newfane Elementary School, 2909 Transit Road, Newfane.

The property tax levy will remain at the current level of $13,025,928 for 2015-16, school officials noted. The current tax rate of $28.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Town of Newfane residents will not increase.

The proposed $33,616,363 budget represents a $301,673 reduction in spending over the current budget. Reductions have been made in state pension costs of $425,470 and in debt payments for previous capital projects of $481,181, according to school officials.

Across-the-board cuts add up to the equivalent of three full-time positions, but no one will lose a job in 2015-16.

Superintendent Michael Wendt said, “There have been some reductions in a number of areas, but we have tried to minimize the impact on programming.”

Bart Schuler, the district’s business administrator, added, “With the personnel reductions being made in correlation with declining enrollment and manageable use of reserves, this budget can handle a hold on taxes.”

Enrollment is projected to drop three percent from the current 1,640 to 1,590 in 2015-16 and discussions have begun about the prospect of some day reducing the number of school buildings from four to three.

The appropriated fund balance and use of reserves dropped from $3.2 million in the 2013-14 budget to $2.6 million in the current budget to a projected $1.8 million for 2015-16.

Wendt said, “I appreciate the work invested by the Board of Education, business administrator and administrative team for coming up with the 2015-16 budget.

“It’s a responsible budget that minimizes any significant impact on programs and further addresses declining enrollment and it reduces the significant gap we’ve had in balancing our revenues and expenses with fund balance,” he noted. “I’m hopeful that the decrease in the overall budget, along with the zero percent increase in the tax levy, will be sufficient reason for residents to support this budget and come out and vote May 19.”

Residents also will vote to fill two empty seats on the Board of Education in non-contested races. Newcomers Laura Licht and Cheryl Wentland are running for three-year terms. Current board members James Reineke and Kelly Artieri are not seeking re-election.