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Orchard Park schools raised tax levy despite surplus, audit says

The Orchard Park Central School District held on to too much money and raised taxes despite budget surpluses for two school years, an audit by the New York State Comptroller's Office found.

The district, on average, underestimated revenue by $1.7 million and overestimated appropriations by $2.8 million, according to the report. Despite the extra funds, the district raised the tax levy by a total of $4.4 million during the two recent school years.

School officials felt they had planned responsibly, according to a letter sent to the comptroller by Jeffrey Petrus, Orchard Park schools' assistant business superintendent.

"We need to make sure we have enough space in the budget for surprises that may come up during the fiscal year," he wrote.

The comptroller suggested district officials budget for unplanned expenses more realistically by looking at historical expenses.

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