Dunkirk school taxes not expected to increase

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward. Business Manager Cindy Mackowiak gives a presentation of the final budget proposal to the Dunkirk Board of Education Thursday.

The basic budget for the 2019-2020 school year for the Dunkirk School District will be $47,847,549, up $2,119,164 from last year. However, there will be no tax increase.

At the Dunkirk Board of Education Meeting Thursday, Business Manager Cindy Mackowiak, gave a presentation of the final numbers in a three-part format for board approval.

“The budget that we are proposing to be adopted tonight for 2019-2020 is administration at $5.1 million, which is down $37,000, primarily because of the reduction in the benefits, which shifts based on the percentages of salaries and each of the components,” Mackowiak stated. “The capital, which is at $7.5 million went up $9,000 over last year, and the program component at $35.1 million went up $2.1 million, primarily due to special education costs, salaries and benefits associated with that.”

She went on to outline the budget parts, noting that administration is everything that’s needed to manage the district, including building level administration; capital is buildings, grounds, transportation and all of the debt service; and program is everything that has to do with instructing the students, including a new full time special education teacher at the Kindergarten level.

“There’s also a $100,000 Capital Outlay Project focusing on School No. 6 that didn’t fit under the renovation project such as drainage issues, parking lot modifications to allow through access and foundation water proofing,” Mackowiak added. $86,000 of this money however, will be refunded in full in the 2020-2021 year, leaving the district to pick up the additional estimated $15,000. There’s also talk of the district looking to do away with the Repair Reserve line and use the funds in buildings and grounds to support LED lighting conversion.

Despite the large increase, there was light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of a zero-tax levy increase, thanks to the final NYS Aid numbers coming in last week. The numbers, showed a Foundation Aid increase for the district of 1.94% or $412,221 from the Governor’s State Aid Run and a 5.09% or $1,080,733 from the Legislative State Aid Run, which puts the district $668,512 over the governor’s original proposal. Building aid is fully on track to fund debt service and the district expects to collect approximately $28 million in Building and Transportation Aid.

There was also a reduction in benefits of $320,738, where health insurance rates came in lower than anticipated, and though the NRG Mitigation is decreasing next year by $383,354, to $1.9 million, less than half of what the PILOT payment used to be, the district is seeing a nearly 10% increase from insurance upped interest rates.

“The state came through and increased the amount that we’re receiving,” Superintendent James Tracy said to the OBSERVER after the meeting. “The board decided that they would go with a zero-percent increase this year to our taxpayers. The budget has increased simply because of wage increases and increases in insurance.”

May 9 is the official budget hearing at 6 p.m. in the Dunkirk High School Large Group Instruction Room with the annual budget vote and Board of Education elections taking place on May 21 in the high school auxiliary gym from 12-9 p.m.