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Thread: Lancaster presents final 2014-15 school budget proposal to BOE

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    Lancaster presents final 2014-15 school budget proposal to BOE

    At Monday evening’s budget work session, the Lancaster Central School District (LCSD) presented its final 2014-15 budget proposal which will be put before the Board of Education (BOE) for their approval on April 22, 2014. There will be a budget public hearing on 5/12/14 and the budget will be voted on by the public on 5/20/14.

    The $97.44 million budget increases spending by $2.72 over last year’s $94.72 million budget; a 2.87% increase.

    The maximum tax levy increase allowed under the Tax Levy Limit Cap for 2014-15 is 3.53 %. The proposed budget has an estimated tax levy change of 3.42%; a $1.58 million increase in property valuation helped lower the percentage increase.

    The estimated increase in tax rate is 2.68%. All programs are preserved.

    In the Town of Lancaster the 2014-15 tax rate per $1,000 of property valuation increases by $0.44 (44 cents) from the 2013-14 tax rate per $1,000 of $16.41 to $16.85. A property assessed at $100,000 will see a $44 increase in school taxes; a property assessed at $200,000 will see an increase of $88, and so on.

    Taxes will go up in Cheektowaga by $0.71 per thousand dollars of assessment and by $9.00 in Elma.

    Budget Analysis

    At the last budget work session, March 10th, the district was looking at a budget that would have increased spending by 3.51%; $98.04 million, an increase on 3.51%. Compared to the budgeted revenues, a $2.36 million deficit existed at that time. In order to close the $2.36 million gap the district was looking to make further cuts to department requests and by added revenue. In the interval between budget work sessions the district did make cuts, the NYS Legislature provided more state aid funding and other revenue streams increased which together closed the deficit gap and allowed for a balanced budget.

    Closing the Deficit

    On the expenditure side, the district cut instructional salaries by $554,752. A large part of that was attributable to cutting three reading teachers who were earlier hired under a grant that no longer exists. $50,000 was cut from contractual expenses.

    $604,752 - total savings

    On the revenue side, the following increases took place:

    $200,000 increase in sales tax

    $945,211 increase in state aid (added increase by Legislature to the Governors proposal of $132,449 for a total of $1.077 million

    -$51,604 decrease in taxes because of increase in property assessments

    $1.093 million - total revenue increase

    Use of reserves and appropriated fund balance:

    $7.28 Million in reserves– same as March 10th; maximum allowable

    $3.765 million in appropriated fund balance – an increase of $665,681 over the amount appropriated on March 10th

    $665,681 - total increase in appropriated fund balance revenue

    $11,063,884 – total appropriated from reserves and fund balance

    Zero budget increase

    The district looks at the proposed budget as being a zero increase budget. Although state aid increased by $1.077 million this budget year and totals $29.34 million, it is still less by near $3.0 million than the $32.35 million the district received in the 2009-10 budget year. The district has received approximately $23 million less in state aid over the past five years. In that five-year time frame, the district has spent well over the $23 million state aid shortfall in rainy-day funds to stay within the allowable tax cap requirement.

    Budget vote

    LCSD Superintendent Michael Vallely was given marching orders to close the $2.36 million existing deficit at the March 10th budget work session by the BOE, and to do so with preserving all programs. The deficit has been eliminated and the budget balanced.

    Should the public vote the proposed budget down, a budget that meets tax cap limit, the district will have no choice but to make $1.6 million in cuts – be that programs, staff, sports, etc.

    The district should not be made the scapegoat here. They controlled spending. No new staff was hired and had one attended the budget work sessions he or she would have seen first-hand that expenditures were considered only when absolutely necessary or mandated.

    The state rides in at the 11th hour; increases state by $1.077 million and say what good boys are we when in fact the district is still receiving $3 million less in state aid that it did five years ago.

    Comment

    The district announced that it would be presenting budget information to the community through various venues. It well should as too many voters have no idea what goes into putting together a budget, but only look at the bottom line. The BOE has been encouraging residents to attend budget work sessions for years to learn what goes into the budget and express opinions on what kind of education should be provided for the children – what should be in the budget and what should be cut out. Only a handful of the same people attend these budget work session meetings on a regular basis.

    Hopefully, the district will be able to convince the public that the proposed budget in reality is a no increase budget considering the continued revenue shortcomings created by GEA. And especially considering Lancaster is putting out a good product while being considered the most cost-effective school district in Western New York.

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    Member gorja's Avatar
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    Lee,

    Was anything mentioned of the rebate scenario that I posted the other day that I took from the Lancaster BOE agenda papers?



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    IMHO it sounds like the BOE and School District did the best they could under the circumstances. Continuing to drain the reserves to keep the school tax increases low probably has to come to an end soon. There seems to be fundamental structural changes that are needed soon in how mandates are dealt with, and these will be very hard to make. Kicking the can down the road only works for so long....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gorja View Post
    Lee,

    Was anything mentioned of the rebate scenario that I posted the other day that I took from the Lancaster BOE agenda papers?

    Yes, and it will be posted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancaster Resident View Post
    IMHO it sounds like the BOE and School District did the best they could under the circumstances. Continuing to drain the reserves to keep the school tax increases low probably has to come to an end soon. There seems to be fundamental structural changes that are needed soon in how mandates are dealt with, and these will be very hard to make. Kicking the can down the road only works for so long....
    From the detailed PowerPoint presentation made last night, resident attendees left with the same impression. Its election year, the politios threw the school districts a bone and still shortchanged them in the process.

    One can rightfully say it dosn't matter where the funding comes from as it is still taxpayer money. But when taxpayer money that was once targeted for education through state aid is now being used to balance a state budget, is being used for political gain, or disproportionately distributed downstate, and where the district is being forced to empty its reserve coffers attempting to maintain programs (intervention programs as well), the district should not be targeted as the scapegoat. The district well controlled their discretionary end of the budget.

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    Member Frank Broughton's Avatar
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    What are reserve funds for?
    The above is opinion & commentary, I am exercising my 1st Amendment rights as a US citizen. Posts are NOT made with any malicious intent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gorja View Post
    Lee,

    Was anything mentioned of the rebate scenario that I posted the other day that I took from the Lancaster BOE agenda papers?

    The district looks at the proposed budget as being a zero increase in taxes to the community due to the newly enacted Property Tax Freeze Credit legislation. Under the Freeze Credit, if the school district remains under their maximum allowable increase in the tax levy, which it is has in this proposed budget, eligible taxpayers (primary residence, eligible for STAR exemption) will receive the increase in taxes back in rebate from from NYS.

    Also, the following give a clearer explanation and/or correction of what I posted in the original thread:

    The maximum tax levy increase allowed under the Tax Levy Limit Cap for 2014-15 is 3.53 %. The proposed budget has an estimated tax levy change of 3.42%; a $1.58 million increase. An increase in property valuation helped lower the tax rate to a lower percent than the levy. The estimated increase in tax rate is 2.68%. All programs are preserved.

    On the expenditure side, the district cut instructional salaries by $554,752. A large part of that was attributable to cutting three new reading teacher positions that were requested and included in the original draft of the budget and reductions in teaching staff due to declining enrollment. $50,000 was cut from contractual expenses.

    Should the public vote the proposed budget down, a contingency budget would be enacted which involves no increase in the tax levy. Therefore, the district will have no choice but to make $1.6 million in cuts be that programs, staff, sports, etc.

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    Member gorja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    The district looks at the proposed budget as being a zero increase in taxes to the community due to the newly enacted Property Tax Freeze Credit legislation. Under the Freeze Credit, if the school district remains under their maximum allowable increase in the tax levy, which it is has in this proposed budget, eligible taxpayers (primary residence, eligible for STAR exemption) will receive the increase in taxes back in rebate from from NYS.

    Also, the following give a clearer explanation and/or correction of what I posted in the original thread:

    • The maximum tax levy increase allowed under the Tax Levy Limit Cap for 2014-15 is 3.53 %. The proposed budget has an estimated tax levy change of 3.42%; a $1.58 million increase. An increase in property valuation helped lower the tax rate to a lower percent than the levy. The estimated increase in tax rate is 2.68%. All programs are preserved.

    • On the expenditure side, the district cut instructional salaries by $554,752. A large part of that was attributable to cutting three new reading teacher positions that were requested and included in the original draft of the budget and reductions in teaching staff due to declining enrollment. $50,000 was cut from contractual expenses.

    • Should the public vote the proposed budget down, a contingency budget would be enacted which involves no increase in the tax levy. Therefore, the district will have no choice but to make $1.6 million in cuts – be that programs, staff, sports, etc.
    With the rebate equaling the tax increase, there is no plausible reason to vote "NO" to the proposed budget, IMHO.


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    It appears they worked hard to bring in a budget - Increased income because of "Increased Property Valuations" = taxes.

    Then they took the knife and the district cut "instructional salaries by $554,752. A large part of that was attributable to cutting three new reading teacher positions that were requested and included in the original draft of the budget Wow they inflated the draft budget - then cut out what they added - WOW!

    Star Program refunds will make us feel even better - most of the increase in actual taxes - will be returned by a increase in the Star Program - so we will pay more - but some of what we paid will be given back - sounds good to me !

    Bravo - I don't go to school board budget meetings or Town Board any more - but its like watching the afternoon soap Opera - you can miss years of it - watch for ten minutes and the story line just keeps repeating it self.

    So get the High School Lawn Circus ready - put the kids out front and we'll all enjoy the show while we vote ! Thanks for all the hard work !
    #Dems play musical chairs + patronage and nepotism = entitlement !

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    What they should have done is leveraged 3012-c (teacher evaluation law) and fired the highly paid teachers. At the very least, they should have given the highly paid teachers ineffective ratings so that they would be pressured to leave. The most highly paid are closest to retirement so let's get rid of them.

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    Member gorja's Avatar
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    What I can't understand is if Cheektowaga went to 100% assessments, how could their rate per thousand go up this year from $26.47 at 62% assessed value to $27.18 at 100% value? At 100% assessment, their rate per thousand should be about the same as Lancaster residents at $16.85, shouldn't it?


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    Don't throw rocks at school board

    Hey 4248: Let's hear your plan so others can carve that up. Don't take everything you read In the rag
    Buffalo News as gospel. Far from it.

    Attend meetings to place what is said in correct context... Don't sell the school board members short. They volunteer their time to pour over details as presented and are not rubber stampers to administration. Please don't disparage them. They give up plenty of time to do what they do. Perhaps you should run this year..There is still time for you to make that difference.

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    So get the High School Lawn Circus ready - put the kids out front and we'll all enjoy the show while we vote ! Thanks for all the hard work !

    What - I said , "Bravo" - isn't that a proper response at the end of a well played act ? Its a shell game played over and over again -
    #Dems play musical chairs + patronage and nepotism = entitlement !

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