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Proposed Amherst schools budget carries slight dip in tax bills

No layoffs or program cuts are planned in the Amherst Central Schools budget for 2016-2017, despite a negative tax cap and a reduction in the amount of money to be raised by the tax levy.

The district’s total budget comes to about $55.6 million, up roughly $2 million over this year’s $53.6 million budget. The School Board adopted the proposed budget during Tuesday evening’s board meeting.

According to Business Administrator Melanie Conley, taxes are set to go down in the budget.

To stay under the 2 percent state imposed tax cap, the amount of money raised by the tax levy is set to drop by 0.48 percent in the adopted budget, from $34.15 million last year to $33.9 million.

“If all things stay the same with assessments, all home and property owners in the town should see a tax decrease in their bill from this year to next year,” she said.

Revenue in the district is up 7.75 percent overall over last year, Conley said, which reflects an increase in state aid and the removal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment in the state budget.

Total state aid is up 32.7 percent, from $12.3 million in 2015-16 to $16.3 million in the adopted 2016-17 budget.

Conley said the district was able to maintain programs and staffing because of the increase in state aid and the removal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

“We really lucked out not having to cut any programs with the negative tax cap,” said Board President Ann Marie Carosella.

In other board news, incoming Superintendent Anthony J. Panella, who starts Tuesday, said his first act as superintendent will be to grant the district a day off on May 27, the Friday before Memorial Day. The district did not use any snow days this year, allowing for the day off.

Panella said he was nervous, however, with the recent snowstorm.

“Yesterday gave us a little scare for April,” he said, referring to the projected storm on Monday. “At least the forecast did.”