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WACS residents expecting smaller increase in school tax levy

April 2, 2015
Westfield Republican

By David Prenatt

Westfield Academy and Central School District residents can expect a smaller increase in the 2015-16 school tax levy than in previous years, board of education members learned last Monday.

District finance manager Tony Montoro presented the final draft of the budget, which was then adopted by the board. The tax levy increase of 1.87 percent will generate an additional $108,324 in revenue for the district.

This is a smaller increase than the 2.2 percent hike residents experienced in the past year. Prior to Montoro's presentation, WACS Superintendent David Davison reaffirmed the district's dedication to providing quality program and services for the students. "We are working on becoming more efficient," he said.

The proposed increase is based on prior year property assessments, Montoro said. The actual rate will not be definite until the county sets the actual rate based on the levy, he said. The full value rate is projected to be $19.41per $1000 of assessed property value compared to $19.05 last year.

"Actual rates per towns will vary based on equalization rates but those are projected to be $24.26 for Westfield, $34.05 for Portland, and $19.41 for Ripley all represent 1.87 percent increases," Montoro said.

The total budget anticipates an increase of $358,000. This represents a 2.4 percent increase whereas the 2014-15 budget contained a 3.7 percent increase, Montoro said. Taxpayers will have the opportunity to vote on the budget on May 19.

As with other districts, WACS is still uncertain of the amount of state aid it will receive due to a political debate that has delayed any estimates. This past weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced an agreement that will include a 6 percent increase in state aid to schools, but no individual figures have been released.

Most of the expenditures in the budget are nearly the same as the current year. Business administration shows a decrease of $26,000, largely in salary. Benefits have also decreased by $177,447. "A large portion of this is related to a decrease in ERS and TRS employer contributions and this is because the economy and stock market are improving which helps these funds stay fully funded," Montoro said.

Special Education is projected to increase of $220,000. Davison noted that the district has had a number of children with special needs move into the area.

The budget also stipulates $49,000 for grounds repair, which did not exist as a line item in prior budgets. Davison explained that this cost had been previously spread throughout several other line items.



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