Surplus allows Cheektowaga-Sloan to lower tax levy increase for ‘22-’23

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Cheektowaga-Sloan Superintendent Andrea Galenski and Business Official Wayne Drescher both say they never stop monitoring the budget. Even after district voters approved a 2022-2023 budget featuring a 0.97% increase in the tax levy for 2022-2023, they continued to look to see how they could do better.

When the 2021-2022 fiscal year ended on June 30 and they realized the district was financially ahead of their original projections, they made the decision to pass along the savings to the community and Drescher reported that there will be no tax levy increase for the 2022-2023 school year.

“It’s a little unusual, but it’s the right thing to do for our students and our community,” Drescher said. “Our budgeting process always starts with the goal of protecting our taxpayers as much as possible, but we still have to meet the needs of the community.” Galenski said that it will have no impact on the educational services provided by the district. “We are in position to do this without sacrificing the educational needs of our students,” she added. “We’re very proud of it because it’s critically important that finances go along with the educational programming and that you’re always balancing that and not overspending. We’re always keeping the community in mind and making really good and thoughtful decisions.”

This marks the second time in five years there has been no increase in the tax levy as it last happened during the 2018-2019 school year.

The projected tax levy still remains at the $15,617,553 figure presented at the budget hearing and approved by voters in May.

Drescher said that since preparing a budget includes a number of factors outside the district’s control, such as state aide funding, sales tax revenue and the district’s contributions to the retirement system, there may not always be a surplus, however, when there is, Cheektowaga Sloan works to not only maintain financial viability, but also to try and pass it along to residents.

Drescher adds that just because there is no increase in the tax levy does not mean that residents won’t see an increase in their tax bill especially with the Town of Cheektowaga increasing assessments and going to a 100% equalization rate.

“All we can do is control what we spend and the tax levy that we present to the public,” Drescher said. “Now, if the town increases assessments flat across the board, there should be no increase, but it doesn’t always work that way.”

This is the second time in five years that the district has had a 0% increase in the tax levy as it last happened in 2018-2019.

While both Galenski and Drescher are happy to pass the savings onto the public this year, they both realize that it is a result of careful financial planning for the district over the years and it may not happen again.

“I mean this is pretty much unheard of and we’re just so excited to be able to do this,” Galenski said. “We are in position to do this without sacrificing the educational needs of our students, which is first and foremost. It’s not something that will happen year after year after year, but whenever we’re in the position to do this, it’s what we’re going to do.”

Published by The Cheektowaga Bee

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