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Majority of School Budgets Pass, Orchard Park Voters Say No

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Budgets in a majority of the school districts across Western New York were approved Tuesday night. But spending plans in seven districts were defeated.

Orchard Park Central School district voters rejected a proposed spending plan. School budgets were also defeated in Niagara Wheatfield, Dunkirk, West Valley Central, Leroy, Royalton-Hartland and Attica.

The Orchard Park budget totaled more than $61 million. It included spending for capital improvements and bus purchases.

The median property tax increase in budgets voted on Tuesday totaled eight percent. But Timothy Kremer of the State School Boards Association says those increases could be lowered once the State budget is settled.

"If the state aid gets settled sometime this summer, and more state aid is put into the budget than estimated by school officials, then that tax rate can be lowered," Kremer said.

In Eden, voters approved a school spending plan that will raise their property taxes to just under 10 percent. And Grand Island residents approved a school budget that will mean a nine percent tax hike.

Kremer says most school districts were forced to increase budgets because of escalating costs they have no control over, like a 12 percent increase in health care premiums and hikes in pension costs.