Ready to vote: School budgets, board seats up Tuesday

OBSERVER Staff Report

On Tuesday, area residents will head to the polls to vote on their local school budget, board members and other possible school-related referendums. Here is a summary of what residents will be voting on:

BROCTON CENTRAL SCHOOL

In Brocton, district residents will vote on a proposed budget totaling $15,298,333 for 2013-2014. This represents an increase of $583,773 over last year’s budget. The tax levy is $4,486,946, an increase of $87,350 over last year. The proposed tax levy is 1.99 percent over last year. Under tax cap rules, the district could have raised the levy by 6.10 percent without having to get a super majority (60 percent plus one) to agree on the budget vote.

This budget has no staffing cuts or major changes from last year.

There are two positions available on the school board. Neither David Hazelton nor Susan Hardy are seeking re-election. Three newcomers are vying for the two positions: Robert Mead-Colegrove, Jim Farrell and Beth Jagoda.

Polls are open from noon until 8 p.m. and voting will be held in the foyer of the new gym.

CASSADAGA VALLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL

At Cassadaga Valley Central School, the proposed budget for 2013-2014 is $19,967,698, down $30,302 from last year. Again this year, a second proposition will be up for a vote. Passage of it would allow the district to purchase two new 60-passenger school buses at a maximum cost of $110,000 each, one 22-passenger school bus at an estimated maximum cost of $46,000 and one Chevrolet Suburban at an estimated maximum cost of $40,000 for a total estimated maximum cost of $306,000.

The tax levy for the district is set at $5,097,060, which represents a 1.98 percent increase from last year. The actual tax cap limit for the district was 6.94 percent.

While the proposed tax rate is yet to be determined based on equalization and assessment rates, the tentative number is $16.71 per thousand.

The district cut 6.2 teaching positions, 14 non-instructional positions and closed the Cassadaga Elementary School effective next year. Due to attrition, at this point 2.5 teaching positions will be eliminated.

Incumbent board of education member Jeanne Oag is seeking re-election for a five-year term, while newcomers Sandra Barker and Daniel Pavlock are running for a two-year term created by the resignation of Paul Mihalko.

Voting will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. at the middle/high school cafeteria.

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE CENTRAL SCHOOL

Chautauqua Lake Central School District will hold its budget vote and board of education election Tuesday.

The total proposed 2013-2014 budget is $19,535,232, a 2.14 percent or $410,748 increase. The proposed tax levy is $10,806,020. This is a 3.72 percent increase, the maximum increased allowed under the tax cap calculation for the district.

It was noted taxes make up 55 percent of the total budget, where state aid and other revenue sources account for 35 and 10 percent respectively. No cuts were noted in the district’s budget newsletter, however the district will be hosting tuitioned students grades seven through 12 from Ripley Central School in the 2013-2014 school year.

Voters will also be able to vote on the election of two three-year terms to the board of education. Incumbents Timothy Hull and Kim Weborg-Benson are running for re-election against newcomer Mary Lee Talbot. The two candidates with the most votes will be elected.

The vote will be held Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the lobby at the center entrance to the school.

DUNKIRK CITY SCHOOL

The Dunkirk City School District is presenting a flat tax levy to voters for the sixth year in a row. The district was able to reduce costs with an early retirement incentive and gain revenue from increased state aid.

The total proposed 2013-2014 budget increased 1.79 percent, or $719,244 to $40,923,396. According to Business Administrator William Thiel, most of the increase is covered by increased state and federal funding.

The district was able to maintain the tax levy at $9,614,516. The district’s tax levy limit was calculated at 10 percent after exclusions, PILOT agreements and carryover, however, the board’s goal was to again stay at no increase in the levy.

At the official budget hearing, Thiel said the approximate full-value tax rate would be $18.88 per $1,000 assessed value. The actual rate will depend on the assessment and equalization rates, which will be announced later in the summer.

There are also three board of education seats up for election, two three-terms currently held by Kenneth Kozlowski and Linda Guy and the one-year remainder of Roosevelt Haynes’ term. Candidates include Bridget Majka and incumbents Kozlowski and Guy. The two with the most votes will fill the full terms and the person with the third-most votes will take the one-year term.

Polls will be open Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. at School Seven in the First Ward, the administrative building in the Second Ward, School Four in the Third Ward and Murray Hose Co. for the Fourth Ward.

FREDONIA CENTRAL SCHOOL

Facing another tough budget year, Fredonia Central School District proposed budget includes teacher cuts and a tax increase.

Although the district received a slight increase in state aid, it does not begin to make up for the $7.8 reduction in state aid since the 2010-2011 budget year, according to Business Administrator John Forbes.

The district has made efforts to share programs and services, pursued mergers with neighboring districts and has transitioned students to the Main Street campus to save money. Forbes noted over the past five years the district has averaged a 0.94 percent spending increase, despite the loss of state aid.

Teacher cuts include a 1.0 FTE career development and occupational studies teacher, a 1.0 FTE English language arts teacher, a 0.18 FTE art teacher, a 0.5 FTE speech teacher and a 0.5 and 1.0 FTE English as a second language teachers.

The total proposed 2013-2014 budget increased $834,680 to $28,754,508.

The district was able to stay under the tax cap, which was calculated at 3.49 percent for the district. The proposed tax levy is $15,079,019, a 2.99 percent increase from the 2012-2013 budget year.

This would amount to an estimated increase in the tax rate of $3.29 per $1,000 assess value for Pomfret, $1.21 for Arkwright, $1.23 for Portland, $0.95 for Sheridan and $0.90 for Dunkirk.

There is also a five-year term up for election on the board of education. Roberta Coniglio is running for re-election unopposed.

The vote will be held Tuesday from 2 to 9 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

FORESTVILLE CENTRAL SCHOOL

Forestville’s total budget at $11,483,188 is down .31 percent from last year’s total of $11,519,320. The proposed tax levy is $3,622,430. The estimated tax rate is $18.01 per thousand assessed value or up .67 per thousand over last year. The levy increased by 3.9 percent which is less than the tax cap of 4.47 that applies to the district. This budget includes an elimination of 3.5 positions, two of which are teaching positions.

In addition to the budget, voters will see another proposition on the ballot. The district is seeking approval to buy two large buses, a small bus and a sedan at a total cost of $270,000.

There is one vacancy on the school board. Incumbent Bruce Ellis is running unopposed.

Voting will take place from 1 to 8 p.m. at the entrance to the high school auditorium.

GOWANDA CENTRAL SCHOOL

The Gowanda Central School District is proposing a total budget of $27,388,487 which is an increase over the 2012-2013 budget by $1,050,871 or 3.99 percent. The proposed tax levy is $4,844,036 which is a 3.03 percent increase but is still under the tax cap. The estimated tax rate is $15.12 which is a $0.44 increase over last year’s tax rate.

There are no new services or programs added in the budget for 2013-2014 school year and all student programs will be retained in addition to positions. Due to revenue shortfall, the budget will be using $661,050 from retirement reserve, $49,000 from employee benefit reserve, $52,650 from unemployment reserve and $1,785,751 in appropriated fund balance to balance the budget.

In addition to the budget, voters will be voting on a transportation proposition. The district would like to purchase two 66-passenger buses and one 29-passenger bus for an amount to not exceed $273,931. These three vehicles will be purchased from reserves and will have no impact on the tax rate for the upcoming year. With the purchase of the three vehicles, the district will trade in six older buses and will also trade in one smaller bus.

There are also two seats available on the board. Incumbent Ann Martindale and Lynn Guzzetta will run for the seats. Voting will take place on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the middle school library.

NORTH COLLINS CENTRAL SCHOOL

The North Collins Central School District is proposing a budget of $14,871,025 which is a $472,077 increase over the 2012-2013 budget or 3.28 percent. This is within the tax cap. The tax levy is proposed at $5,024,017 which is a 2.92 percent increase. The tax rate will be $21.34 which is an increase from current rate of $20.74.

The district had the retirement of one full-time teacher as well as the elimination of a .5 high school science position and reduction of a laborer position. The district also added a .4 FTE music teacher, a .3 FTE physical education teacher, .3 FTE counselor and a .1 FTE technology position. Curriculum support will be offered by BOCES two days per week.

Voters will also vote on a transportation proposition not to exceed $220,000. The purchase will be paid out of the bus reserve and will have no impact on the tax rate. The district would like to purchase a 66-passenger bus and one pick-up truck with plow.

Tammy Winter is running for one open seat on the Board of Education. Voting will take place on Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. in the Jr. Sr. High School gym.

PINE VALLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL

The Pine Valley Central School District is proposing a budget of $15,019,537 which is a 2.7 percent increase over last year’s budget. This upcoming budget will be the first time in eight years the district will see a tax increase. The levy is set at $3,236,080 which is a 3 percent increase but still within the tax cap.

The district is proposing to eliminate a UPK mid-day bus run, extending the UPK program to full day as well as eliminating a bus monitor for that run. The district will also eliminate a .6 FTE custodial position and reduce the amount of sections of kindergarten from three down to two. Grades 4 and 5 will have one section reduced. The teachers whose positions are being reduced are not losing their jobs and will be reassigned.

In addition to the budget, voters will have two propositions to vote on. The first proposition is a transportation proposition for the purchase of vehicles not to exceed $336,538. The initial finance cost for the 2013-2014 school year will be approximately $55,000. The second proposition is for a non-voting student representative to sit on the Board of Education. There are also four individuals running for three open seats on the board. Incumbents Jo Ann Anderson, Janie Waag and Lawrence Zollinger in addition to Angelo Graziano are all running for three-year terms.

Voting will take place on Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. in the Jr. Sr. High School at the new gym entrance.

RIPLEY CENTRAL SCHOOL

Ripley School District residents will have the opportunity to vote on overall budget decreases in the proposed 2013-2014 budget Tuesday.

The proposed total budget is $8,370,065, a $148,660 or 1.75 percent decrease from the 2012-2013 budget. The proposed tax levy is also set to decrease by 4.05 percent to $2,140,341. It was noted these decreases were made possible because the district entered into an agreement to tuition students grades seven through 12 to Chautauqua Lake Central School.

In addition to the budget, voters will also weigh in on a $210,000 purchase of buses and equipment from the vehicle reserve.

There is also a contested board of education race. There are two three-year terms up for election. Frederick Krause is seeking re-election and is running unopposed. Wanda Bentley and Paul McCutcheon are running for the seat previously held by Nancy Rowe.

The vote will be held Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. in Distance Learning Room 123.

SILVER CREEK CENTRAL SCHOOL

Increased state aid and use of fund balance and reserved helped the Silver Creek School district lower the original proposed increase in taxes.

In order to balance the budget the district has decided to cut a 0.5 FTE music teacher position and a 0.5 FTE French teacher. This is a reduction in the music position. The elimination of the French position will result in the class no longer being offered.

The total proposed 2013-2014 budget increased 3.25 percent from 2012-2013 to $20,477,618.

The district stayed under the tax cap, which equated to 6.7 percent for the district, with a proposed increase of 2.7 percent to the tax levy. The proposed tax levy is $5,661,824.

The full-value tax rate is estimated to rise $0.47 per $1,000 assessed value for a total of $17.76. Business Administrator Cindy Mackowiak noted this tax rate is lower than in the 2006-2007 budget for Hanover and Brant.

In addition to the budget there will also be a proposition to expend $118,978 from the vehicle reserve on a bus purchase. The second proposition is to create another vehicle reserve up to $850,000 by transferring reserve funds and fund balance.

There are also two school board seats up for election, a five-year term and a one-year unexpired term previously held by Amy Chavez. Candidates include Gregory Cole, who has served on the board since Louis Dispenza resigned, and Stephen Boothe.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 1 to 9 p.m. in the high school lobby.

WESTFIELD ACADEMY AND CENTRAL SCHOOL

The 2013-2014 Westfield Academy and Central School District proposed budget includes cuts to teachers and a tax increase.

In order to balance the budget, the district studied class sizes and efficiency and decided to eliminate a full-time elementary teacher and a .33 FTE language teacher in the middle/high school as well as reduce a full-time middle/high school teacher to .33 FTE. Other reductions included maintenance staff and supplies.

The total proposed budget increased from 2012-2013 by $300,142, or 2.17 percent, to $14,153014. This translates to a 4.49 percent, or $244,048, increase in the tax levy for total of $5,678,406.

The district received $459,566 more in state aid than the previous year, but also used $270,000 less fund balance and reserve funds. The budget is under the district’s tax cap calculation of 4.53 percent.

There is also a three-year term on the board of education up for election. Incumbent Steve Cockram is running for re-election unopposed.

The budget vote will be held Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. in the front lobby by the auditorium.

Contributing to this report were OBSERVER staff members Nicole Gugino, Samantha McDonnell and Diane Chodan. Comments may be sent to editorial@observertoday.com.