Salamanca City Central School Closes In On Tax Levy Numbers

SALAMANCA – The timetable for getting school budget numbers in place seems to be a year-round thing for district business administrators. A deadline that is quickly approaching is for submission of an allowable tax levy increase for all districts in the state. The Salamanca City Central School District has completed calculations.

After the complicated tax cap formula is completed, the school district can lawfully ask voters for an increase in levy up to 3.26 percent. That would give the district an allowable increase of $111,643 and a total levy of $3,539,540, according to district business officer, Karen Magera.

Before taxpayers should go grabbing for their wallets, however, Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said that increase would not materialize. In fact, he said district taxpayers may see a decrease of more than 10 percent in the tax levy. That decrease would come on the heels of several large windfall revenues in the district.

The 2013 agreement between New York state and the Seneca Nation of Indians, dealing with casino revenues, gave the district $5.7 million in December. The month before, the district was awarded $1.6 million in Federal Impact Aid to assist in the lost school taxes due to tax exemptions. The district is about 42 percent tax exempt, for those who live within the city and on the Allegany Territory of the Seneca Nation.

Those numbers will be added to the aid package that will come from New York state, once state lawmakers decide to what level they will fund school districts. The exact number in tax levy increase or decrease will not be known until that date, Magera said.

“We should have that number rather shored up in the next three to four weeks,” Breidenstein said. “The double-digit decrease is a conservative estimate for school taxes.”

Breidenstein said the formula for determining the allowable amount of increase is very complex. According to the numbers, he said the the tax levy is allowable up to 1.46 percent of the budget, but the numbers show an allowable rate of 3.26 percent, all to keep in the 2 percent tax cap legislation.

As the budget numbers start to sift out, one of the largest areas for most districts will see an increase in Salamanca as well. Mandated benefits are projected to go from $5.68 million to $6.76 million, a 19 percent increase. Programs are expected to cost $3.2 million in the coming year, as opposed to the $2.9 million in the current school year.

The allowable tax levy increase must be reported to state education officials in March. Budgets will be presented in full and voted upon in May, with the vote taking place May 20.