Tax Rate Hike Proposed In Bemus Point

The public will soon vote on the 2014-15 Bemus Point Central School budget, which the board of education adopted in April.

Superintendent Michael Mansfield led a budget hearing on Thursday to discuss the adopted budget’s details.

The 2014-15 budget totals $12,927,165, less than the 2013-14 budget by $192,660.

Mansfield noted that in various areas of the budget, expiring debt from 1998-99 projects is affecting budget numbers. State aid, considered as revenue on the budget, is decreasing by $315,543 because of the expiring debt.

“(The expiring debt) impacts our revenue in a very negative way,” Mansfield said.

The budget proposes a tax levy increase of $158,216, raising the tax rate to $0.29 per $1,000. The district’s 2.01 percent tax levy cap will provide $8,016,094 in revenue.

Mansfield noted that even with the increase, Bemus Point has the third lowest rate in Chautauqua County.

As the school was “overspending” estimates on athletics, Mansfield noted that the athletic budget has been increased.

“We want to keep excellent extracurricular activities,” he said. “Of course, we want to be fiscally responsible – fiscally sound – we want to eliminate dependency on spending reserve funds.”

Mansfield said that instruction is the largest portion of the budget.

In order to keep on budget, the school was forced to make sacrifices – one full-time teacher retiring will not be replaced, according to Mansfield. One half-time secretary retiring will also not be replaced.

In accordance with the 2009-10 Gap Elimination Adjustment, Bemus Point will be receiving 20 percent restoration, as it has been labeled an “average needs” school. $405,404 of the state aid Bemus Point is entitled to will not be provided. The state aid the school will receive for 2014-15 is less than the amount received in 2008-09.

“High needs” schools in the area received up to 70 percent restoration, according to Mansfield.

Over the last six years, total withholdings of state funds for Bemus Point has surpassed $6 million.

“Voter support for this budget is key,” Mansfield said.

Bemus Point is also proposing the purchase of two 66-passenger buses, for a total cost of $245,000. The bus proposition is separate from the budget vote.

Voting on the budget will take place on Tuesday, May 20, from 2 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., at the Maple Grove Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria.