Lancaster school district budget proposes 1.51% tax rate increase
By Lee Chowaniec
Apr 11, 2012, 10:15

Faced with meeting a 3.76% max tax levy increase, the Lancaster Central School District (LCSD) BOE met with administrators at last night’s final budget work session and agreed to propose a 2012-13 school budget that will raise the tax levy by only 1.88% and the tax rate by only 1.51% for Town of Lancaster residents. The new tax rate will increase the amount residents pay in school taxes by $0.24 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The tax rate for Cheektowaga residents will increase 1.48%, or $0.38 per $1.000 of assessed valuation. For Elma residents the tax rate increase will be 1.47%, $4.95 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

For Lancaster residents, the 24 cent per thousand assessment increase translates to a property owner paying $24 per year more on a home valued at $100,000; $48 more on a home assessed at $200,000.

The final budget retains all programs.

The $91.5 million budget increases spending from last year’s $87.6 million budget by 4.47%. The increase is in large part attributable to the expiration of the federal JOBS grant of $1.73 million. No longer having that money available, the district had to pick up that portion to retain the staffing that the grant money paid for last year. The increase is also attributable to the significant increases in staff salaries and benefits.

To get to the 3.76% tax levy limit which meets the current 2% state mandated tax cap law (and includes exclusions), $538,9125 was trimmed from the budget by cutting 13.8 full time staff members. Three of those staff reductions were teaching positions no longer needed in the elementary school level because of declining enrollment.

LCSD is using $9.79 million in reserve and fund balance monies to lower the deficit.

The BOE had assured the public at that work session that the budget would be further reduced to lower a tax rate that was estimated at 3.34% and would have increased the tax obligation by $0.53 per $1,000 of assessed value.

LCSD did receive $628,311in added state from the Gap
Elimination Adjustment formula; incorporated in the recently approved state budget.

Gap Elimination Adjustment – The enacted budget includes a $2.156 billion Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) for the 2012-13 school year. The GEA is adjusted to provide for growth in school aid over 2011-12 by $400.196 million. The governor’s proposal proposed a $289 million GEA adjustment.

For Lancaster, the enacted budget means:

Instead of $0 increase in foundation aid, a $199,497 increase

Instead of $0 GEA adjustment, a $-444,238 adjustment; bringing the GEA from -$5,447,423 to -$5,003,185

A few expenditure driven aids were adjusted based on the state database. Therefore, the enacted state budget’s net increase to the district’s budget was $628,311.

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