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Lew-Port takes $40M budget, 5.5 percent tax increase to voters

by jmaloni
Fri, Apr 26th 2013 04:00 pm

2013 board candidates at session

by Janet Schultz

After intense discussion on program and personnel cuts, the Lewiston Porter Board of Education passed a $40,001,368 proposed budget for 2013-14 in a 5-2 vote. Board members Jerome Andres and Mollie Lucas voted against the plan.

The budget calls for a 5.52 percent tax levy increase, 1.5 percent above the state's allowable rate. Therefore, a 60 percent majority yes vote is needed for the budget to pass.

A negative result would mean the voters would have one more chance to pass a budget before the contingency sets in. A contingency budget calls for no tax levy increase. The budget would be based on 2012-13 and $1.2 million in cuts would have to be made.

The proposed budget plan replaces the modified sports program, returns kindergarten to full day, brings back half of the After School Assistance Program, half of the field trips and eight teacher aide positions.

The impact of the tax levy increase would be an estimated tax rate of $20.96 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Town of Porter residents, and an estimated tax rate of $24.06 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Town of Lewiston residents.

Superintendent Christopher Roser told the board he wasn't in favor of the increase in the tax levy over what the state would allow; that being 4 percent.

However, after a heated discussion on the modified sports program, board member Michael Gentile made his feelings clear.

"We need money. It's pure and simple," he said. "We have been at this three months and I'm not cutting anything more or looking for places to cut.

"We went to a referendum on the recreation center and we won't go to a referendum to see what the people of this district want."

"You have to (be) pretty confident to go above the tax threshold," Roser said.

"We have no choice but to raise the money locally," said Board President Jodee Riordan.

The board's concern is that members will need the 60 percent vote and that the community needs to come out and voice its support through a vote.

"We owe it to the community to see if they will support it," Riordan said.

"Nobody here wants to raise taxes; nobody here wants to lay off 40 people; nobody here wants to cut programs," she added.

The Tuesday night meeting was also to be a Meet the Candidates Night. However, with low attendance there wasn't much interaction with candidates Riordan, seeking re-election, and Betty VanDenBosch-Warrick and Anna Boulay Wright, seeking the positions that will be vacated by Andres and Jim Sperduti, whose terms expire this year.

VanDenBosch-Warrick has been an active volunteer for the past 11 years from classroom volunteer to PTA leader. She has a certificate of general studies at Niagara County Community College and is a graduate of ACT Travel School. She is employed as a general manager for U.S. Operations, Yorkville Sound Inc. She has three children attending Lewiston-Porter, one each in elementary, middle and high school.

Boulay Wright provided no bio.

A public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. and the annual election and budget vote will be Tuesday, May 21, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Community Resource Building, on the Lew-Port Creek Road campus.

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