Weekly Feature

2017-05-17 / Front Page

School Board holds budget hearing

by ANNA WALTERS
Editor

A hearing on the 2017-18 Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Board of Education budget was held at the board’s May 9 meeting.

“The district has come a long way in the last 10 years. We’ve had some terrific budget deficits to deal with, the worst being $14 million the one year,” said Superintendent Stephen Bovino.

He noted that the practices that have been put into place by the past and current assistant superintendents of finance have helped stabilize finances throughout the years.

“I’d also like to publicly acknowledge Assemblyman [Robin] Schimminger and Sen. [Chris] Jacobs who worked together to get increased funding for the district due to the Huntley Plant closing.”

He added that Schimminger was heavily involved in the original bill and then the leaders came back and secured more money for the district through the Huntley Mitigation Fund.

“That’s giving us an opportunity to plan and ease the loss of $3 million. The district is slowly but surely returning to financial stability,” Bovino said.

At the meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance John Brucato also gave a presentation to review the budget of approximately $160.7 million. The budget was unanimously adopted at the board’s April 4 meeting.

“We’re not increasing taxes for ’17-’18, but we’re able to increase our programming significantly in our schools, which is a very proud feat for the Board of Education and administration,” Brucato said at the budget adoption meeting.

According to Brucato, the budget is a $3.5 million increase from the current plan, representing a 2.26 percent budget-to-budget increase.

The projected property tax rate is $49.24 per $1,000 assessed value, which is a 0 percent increase in the tax rate. The spending plan includes a projected tax levy of about $82.4 million, which is also a 0 percent increase.

Brucato noted that the district is at a turning point where it’s depending less on reserves. Due to the Huntley funding, the district will be able to replenish funds that it had to use throughout the past years to offset losses.

“The long-term goal is to be financially stable in the sense that we’re not relying on our savings account to balance our budget; we’re not relying on our savings account to get us through year to year. But rather building a budget where ... it can sustain itself, and if possible, fund some of those reserves,” Brucato said, giving an example of the capital reserve the district set up at the last year’s vote.

On the ballot with the budget is a bus proposition, which includes reinstating a 10-year bus replacement cycle. The estimated cost is about $1.3 million, and state aid would cover 70 percent of that cost.

The budget vote and Board of Education election took place on Tuesday.

For more information, visit www.ktufsd.org.

email: awalters@beenews.com

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