City school budget sticks to 2% tax hike

As other taxing entities nearby struggle with the prospect of double-digit tax increases, the Dunkirk City School District is sticking to the advice of its financial guru and going with its usual 2% tax increase.

“I know it’s not good, but when you watch the news, it could be worse,” Board of Education President Kenneth Kozlowski said.

District Superintendent Michael Mansfield offered an update on the 2024-25 budget at a Board of Education meeting last week. He said the total budget is $58,770,000, a 4.11% increase from the district’s 2023-24 spending plan.

Dr. Richard Timbs, the district’s independent financial adviser, has consistently advocated 2% tax increases every year as a way to stay ahead of rising costs and questionable state aid. Mansfield said Timbs warned not to expect any large increases in state aid for the new years.

“That seems to be the theme” in Albany, Mansfield said, as legislators continued work on a budget that wound up getting announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday.

The superintendent pointed to surging costs in special education as the main reason budget expenditures are up 4.11%. The school district has seen a steady increase in special education students, to 399 this school year from 235 in 2014-15. Mansfield said a new special education classroom had to be constructed to handle the increased total.

The district was able to appropriate about $200,000 less in fund balance during this budget cycle than it did for 2023-24. That’s in part due to about $150,000 more Payments In Lieu Of Taxes coming in; the increase is related to Wells’ ice cream factory expansion project.

However, transportation costs are up $219,734, after the district rebid the contract.

Indirectly related to the tax levy, the district plans to draw down its capital reserve for upcoming projects. It will go from $9.07 million in that account to $15,000.

The Board of Education approved its state-mandated 2024-25 tax report card. Mansfield said adjustments can be made to the budget proposal until April 29.

The public hearing on the budget is May 8 and district voters will vote on it May 21.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today