Gowanda holds budget hearing

GOWANDA – Resid-ents were given the chance to voice their opinions on the proposed school budget at a budget hearing hosted by the Gowanda Board of Education recently.

The proposed budget for the upcoming school year will total $27,388,487. The amount is a 3.99 percent increase over the 2012-2013 budget. The estimated tax levy will be $4,844,036 or a 3 percent increase. The tax rate is estimated to be $15.12. Business Executive Joelle Woodward said the tax levy and the tax rate is based on current information. Assessment values won’t be available until July. The tax rate is a 3.03 percent increase over last year’s rate of $14.68.

Woodward said there is a substantial increase in the board of education line in the budget but that is for the hiring of a board of education clerk. Woodward used to serve as district clerk with another employee from the business office helping. The other employee’s salary for the clerk was located in a different part of the budget and the newly hired clerk during this current school year is not making any more than the previous position.

“During the early part of the 2012-2013 school year, we hired a district clerk.

Before I was serving as your district clerk with no compensation but we had another employee who was split between two offices and their salary came out of a different line item,” Woodward said. “When we coded that line item and labeled it as district clerk … it made a huge impact percentage wise because there’s very little money budgeted in that grouping to begin with.”

The district saw an increase in state aid of 2.65 percent but will see a decrease in Native American aid of 7.13 percent. Voters will have a proposition in addition to the budget. The district is looking to purchase three vehicles not to exceed $273,931. The district is looking to purchase two 66-passenger buses and a 29-passenger vehicle. The district will also trade in six vehicles.

“For some reason if the state withdrew the state contract amount on these vehicles and they increased in price, we would have to adjust what we were purchasing. We would have to purchase less … we cannot exceed the expenditure amount the voters approve,” Woodward said.

Five 66-passenger vehicles will be traded in. They are model year 2005 with 126,000 miles, model year 2005 with 98,000 miles and four model year 2007 with miles ranging from 85,000 to 120,000 miles. One 29-passenger vehicle will be traded in that has 105,000 miles. The bus purchases will be eligible for 90 percent state aid and will have no impact on the budget. The buses would cost $27,393 after state aid from reserves.

Following the budget presentation, residents were able to ask questions in regards to budget. Resident Janet Vogtli asked if there will be a library proposition to vote on. Woodward said since the library proposition has not changed since last year, it will not be a proposition. Resident Joe Vogtli asked how the school budget keeps increasing and enrollment is decreasing.

“From what I can recall the budget goes up about $1 million a year and I know about 60 percent is uncontrolled. … I think there’s three areas that we can address that impact how much we spend, transportation, food services and classroom size,” he said.

President Mark Nephew said the board will take all considerations into putting together the budget next year.

If the budget does not pass, the district could go out for a second vote on the budget, make changes to the budget before going for a second vote, or go with a contingency budget. In the contingency budget, the tax levy cannot be higher than the 2012-2013 budget levy. A contingency budget would be $27,367,936 and would be a 3.91 percent increase. Voters will also vote on two empty seats on the board of education. Ann Martindale and Lynn Guzzetta are both running for the open seats. Voting will take place on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the middle school library.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com.