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Hamburg Central adopted budget calls for 5.4 percent tax levy hike

Residents in the Hamburg Central School District have been presented a budget for 2013-14 that includes a total expenditure plan of $60.2 million to go along with a tax levy increase of 5.4 percent, with the tax hike representing an amount that is the maximum allowable limit above the tax cap levy.

The proposed budget’s expenditures would be increased from the 2012-13 academic year by about $3.6 million, which is a hike of 6.45 percent. The tax levy limit, which was presented during Tuesday’s (April 16) Hamburg Central School Board meeting, is slated at about $33.5 million, representing an increase of $1.7 million from 2012-13. Any tax rate increase presented above the 5.4 percent, an amount established according to the calculated tax cap formula, would have required a 60-percent voter approval during the May 21 budget vote. However, the fact that the slated tax rate increase did not exceed such an established amount seemed to bring relief to several district officials, as the proposed budget requires simply the regular majority voter approval.

It was stated that if the proposed budget does not garner majority voter approval, a contingency budget would be brought to the table, a plan that would include the district moving forward with the 2012-13 tax levy and thus needing to slash an additional $1.7 million from the proposed budget.

As part of the projected tax bills for 2013-14, residents having homes assessed at $75,000 would see a bill of $1,535.25, compared to the 2012-13 tax bill of $1,461. Homes assessed at $100,000 and $150,000 would bring tax bills of $2,047.00 and $3,070.50, hiked from 2012-13 bills of $1,948 and 2,922.

Director of Administrative Services Barbara Sporyz presented the budget outline Tuesday. It was stated that $195,000 in savings is being generated based on reducing the number of teachers, because of decreases in student enrollment. Retirements are accounting for $90,000 in the savings, while resignations represent savings of $30,000. No physical body positions are being eliminated, although three positions are being eliminated through attrition. It was stated, additionally, that budget parameters include preserving reasonable class sizes, strong Advanced Placement courses and opportunities, course electives at Hamburg High School, music and art courses, and academic opportunities for special needs students.

Other budgetary amounts include $20.4 million in New York State aid; $3.6 million in sales tax revenues; $1.25 million in appropriated fund balance reserves for the purpose of reducing taxes; and $490,000 in Employee Retirement System, unemployment and debt service reserves. Sporyz stated her belief that maintaining the district’s fund balance/reserve monies may be difficult in the near future, with a noted $1,957,000 of such funds being appropriated toward the 2012-13 budget. With the use of $1.25 million for 2013-14, it was estimated that reserve funds could be dried up by the time of the 2014-15 budget year.

Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch described the 2013-14 budget as one that was difficult for district officials to prepare in the wake of trending, declining state aid and increase retirement system costs. However, Achramovitch added that the fiscal plan for the upcoming school year is sound.

Planning for the 2013-14 budget began almost at the start of the academic year, and in November district officials were facing what was described as a $4.9 million budget gap, with state aid revenues projected at just $19,458,208. However, further tweaking of budgetary parameters and other monetary shifting in the months that followed helped district officials shape the fiscal plan that they are now presenting to voters.

A presentation on the 2013-14 budget to district residents will take place at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 in the Hamburg High School auditorium, followed by a budget hearing with residents’ comments occurring at 7:15 p.m.

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