Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education approved a resolution Monday, March 24 to submit a budget for 2014-14 that includes a 2.2 percent increase in the tax levy.
The proposed tax increase is .3 percent less than the maximum increase of 2.5 percent that the district could have imposed, said superintendent David Davison. Voters will have the chance to review the budget at a public hearing on May 13.
If voters reject the budget, the district would initiate the contingency plan in which the current budget would remain in effect. In this case, the district would have to cut another $124,000 from expenditures, Davison said.
Photos by David Prenatt
At left, Westfield Academy and Central School elementary student Connor Graham talks about his science project with the district’s board of education.
The overall budget shows an increase of 3.7 percent, Davison said. Even with the proposed tax increase, the full value tax rate is still less than it was in 2009, he said.
District business manager Alan Holbrook said most of the budget items were similar or less than they were in the 2013-14 budget. There were some necessary increases in operations because of the need for a new mower and a score board, he said. Transportation was up slightly because of a new bus and a new Suburban.
The health insurance premium increased 3 percent, Holbrook said. Teaching salaries also increased. On the revenue side, state aid is expected to increase 4.8 percent, he said.
Holbrook said he hopes actual expenditures will be less than anticipated in the coming year. "We're projecting what we hope is the worst case scenario," he said. "We tried to put together what we thought was a reasonable budget. We didn't try to tax to the max."
Board president Jeff Greabell noted that the budget involved tough decisions. For instance, several community members petitioned for a restoration of the music program as it was before cut two years ago.
"We would like to thank them for coming forward with this, but we just can't see doing it at this time," he said. "There are other programs we felt were more important," he said.
In other business, the board approved a proposition to move ahead with a $3.4 million facilities capital project as it was recommended by the facilities planning committee. Most of the cost will be covered by EXCEL funds.
Greabell noted that most of the projects in this phase were necessities. "We are not doing everything we have selected those things that need to be done," he said.
In February, the board heard a presentation by David Walter, senior vice-president of the architectural design firm Clark, Patterson and Lee, gave the board an overview of recommended projects throughout the school facilities. Many of these projects are required to meet code standards while others are upgrades, improvements or restorations.
Projects include work on the roof systems, repairs to the bus garage and parking areas, restoration on the main building, renovations of the bathrooms, and upgrading technology.
Holbrook told the board that construction bids are coming in high right now and therefore the actual contracts for the work will be hard to predict. "When we go to bid a year from now, we will be at the whim of the market," he said. "Right now we are using the best information we can get."
The board also received a special presentation from three elementary students who participated in the first WACS science fair in March. Haleigh Dellow, Connor Graham and Darren Morse each recounted their experiences to the board and gave an overview of their particular project.
In another matter, Davison discussed a request from Brocton Central School to make changes in the football program that the districts share. Brocton said it will increase its financial share to $6,000 in return for having two games played at Brocton. Currently only one game is played in Brocton. Also, the helmets will bear insignias of both districts. Players will wear blue jerseys when the game is in Westfield and green jerseys when playing in Brocton.
The board approved five other shared sports programs. WACS will share wrestling, swimming and golf with Chautauqua Lake; outdoor track with Brocton; and indoor track with Fredonia.