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Clarence Among Six Budgets in WNY Rejected By Voters

(WBEN) Voters in six Western New York school districts rejected  tax hikes in district budget proposals Tuesday.  Of the top five tax hikes proposed by school districts in Western New York, only one of them was approved. 

The three highest tax hikes proposed by Niagara County districts- Niagara Wheatfield, Lewiston-Porter, and Wilson--  were all turned down, along with budgets in  Clarence & Alden in Erie County, and Bemus Point in Chautauqua County.

All other districts in the region passed their budgets.

Proposed Spending
Increase/ *(Decrease)
Clarence 9.8 % 1.08 % 4,801 3.431
Niagara Wheatfield 5.91 3.69 % 1,601 1,598
Bemus Point 5.67 % 5.17 % 227 215
Lewiston Porter 5.52 % -1.16 %* 1,153 939
Wilson 4 % 3.49 % 698 414
Alden 3 % 3.56 743 495

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Because the size of their tax hike exceeded the state's property tax cap, Lew-Port and Clarence needed approval from  60 percent of the voters in order to pass a budget.   The two percent  cap  mandated by state law does not include any tax increases that can be attributed to pension costs and certain other arcane exemptions. 

 All the other budgets in WNY  were either passed or defeated by simple majorities.
  • Of the districts proposing WNY's top five tax hikes, only Hamburg' s budget-- with a 5.40 % hike and spending up 6.45%--  was approved.
  • The majority of WNY's districts -88 out of 94 of them- approved budgets, with tax hikes ranging from 5.4 % in Hamburg to 1.01 in Springville-Griffith Institute .
  • The average tax hike in the districts that said no to their budget proposals was 5.65 percent.
Lewiston Porter was the only one of the rejected budgets in WNY that included both a tax hike and  spending cuts too. After proposing 1.16 percent  less spending than last year,  board members will have to prepare more spending cuts in time for a re-vote June 18.

In Clarence, where anti-tax activists staged a vigorous campaign against the budget plan, turnout was up approx. 167 percent--  so substantial that there were approx. 100 voters in line when the polls closed at 9 pm.  Overall 4,801 of the record  8,232 voters said no to the budget plan submitted by administrators.  Usual turnout is closer to 3,000 voters.

Clarence increased spending over last year by 1.08 percent- an amount below the county average, and less than the increase proposed in all but 5 other districts in the county.  Nonetheless, the Clarence proposal  prompted campaigning usually reserved for far larger elections, with mailers, lawn signs and emotions running high across the entire town.

"I was elated. I think the residents of Clarence clearly stated enough was enough. It was an outrageous increase and the school district was arrogant enough to think that they could get away with it," said Ellie Corcoran, a Clarence resident who was active in the fight against the budget plan.

Clarence school board members will meet in the next few weeks to draft a smaller budget that will go before voters in mid June.  They will need to cut $2.44 million to  present a budget plan that is under the state's cap.

Districts that have their budgets rejected by voters in two consecutive votes, go to an automatic contingency plan.


05/22/2013 7:58AM
Clarence Among Six Budgets in WNY Rejected By Voters
Please enter your comments below.
05/22/2013 4:16PM
Angry Taxpayer
Take that kids! You have no future here! How DARE No-bama make me pay more to provide children with a good education! Guns!
05/23/2013 11:54AM
Old Saying!
There’s an old saying, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” Well my fellow Clarence residents have done just that following the leadership of the right wing, Tea party, fanatics that hide behind the title “Clarence Taxpayers Group”. They are willing to bankrupt the next generation, lower property values, and threaten the housing market because they’re short sighted and cheap. Contracts cannot be unilaterally opened and the fact is the faculty and staff are not over paid. They should not be asked to give Clarence residents another hand out. The teachers gave concessions last year. We in Clarence should stop asking New York State to give us more money than other districts. Let’s stop the socialism campaign. The fact that these two new board members “bought “ their seats is an embarrassment.
05/23/2013 3:03PM
Enough Already!
I live in Amherst and we support our schools. I'm tired of my state tax money going to Clarence to support their rich fat cats. It's about time they either pay or go back to being a third rate school district. That's what they were and that's where they belong if they don't have the common sense to support the schools. They would have paid a lower tax rate than everyone else if they had passed their budget. Bet they didn't tell you that!
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