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Next Year's School Budget Set to Increase Spending by $2.2M

The Port Chester School Board adopted next year's budget on April 14. Pending voter's approval next month, the budget will put overall expenditures at $79.5 million from last year's $77.3 million.

The Port Chester School District has approved a spending plan for next year that will tack on an additional $2.2 million in spending.

At an April 14 budget presentation, officials calculated expenditures at $79.5 million for the 2011-2012 school year—a significant jump from last year’s $77.3 million.

Officials said that overall district upkeep, rising teacher salary costs and $16 million in employee benefits—up $2 million from last year's budget—are partially responsible for the new village tax bill. High student enrollment in the district has also made classroom sizes large already, so eliminating staff members would cause overcrowding.

“There are several classes in the district that have over 25 [students] in them," said Jim Taylor, president of the school board. "That doesn’t give much room to reduce staff."

The district is set to receive $700,000 more in state aid than was initially expected, which may help homeowners breathe a little easier come tax time.

With the district's state aid now at $15.1 million, the overall tax levy sits at 3.31 percent and will maintain current teacher positions. But the change from last year’s tax figures will be sure to create mixed feelings from residents around poll time.

“[The school board] has done a good job realizing the economic circumstances we’re in—families are collectively trying to survive,” said Port Chester taxpayer and local chapter President of the NAACP, John Reavis.

Thanks to an incentive that encouraged 28 teachers to retire this June, $1.2 million will be saved by hiring new teachers for next year. Reductions in work-time for two library clerks will save another $18,000.

Additional funds will be saved by reducing the incoming school superintendent's salary by $30,000 to $220,000. Assistant Superintendents Maura McAward and Frank Fanelli will also not be receiving raises this September.

In tough economic times, a $327 million drop in Port Chester assessed property value has caused residents to scramble for dough, according to officials.

The district has already eliminated librarians positions, cut aids and hall monitors, and stopped elementary school bussing on field trips to Port Chester Middle School’s planetarium in recent years.

“We’ve made tough decisions in the past and we’ve done our work already. That’s why you won’t see the drama here that you may in other school districts [come budget time] this year,” Taylor added.

A public hearing will be held on May 5, followed by the budget vote on May 17.

Editor's Note: The article previously said that the district's expenditures were set to increase by $2.5M. The correct figure is $2.2M. Also, the article previously cited a $327 billion drop in assessed property value. The correct amount, according to the school district's data, is $327 million.

George Datino April 21, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Concerned View, the impact on your wallet will greatly be impacted on whether or not your assessed value on your home stayed the same, went up or went down. Because the total assessables went down 9%, even the budget had not spending increase at all, the tax rate would have to increase by 11% to yield the same amount of money. So for you personally, if the assessed value of your house went down by 9% from last year, a 10% tax rate increase would have you paying the same amount of taxes. Here is an example using low numbers just for simplicity. Last year your house is worth $1,000. With a tax rate of $.10, your tax bill would be $100. This year, your house is worth $910. In order to get even, a tax rate of $.11 would be needed to get your tax bill to be $100. If your assessed value didn't change and your house was assessed still at $1,000 and using the break even tax rate of $.11, then your tax bill would be $110. That is a 10% increase in your tax bill. Now, the current budget calls for additional spending above last years budget (by $2.2 MILLION). So the tax rate that will be used is going to be more than the 10% increase in tax rate, that would have been used if the amount of spending stayed the same from last year's budget to this year's. How it all effects your "wallet" will heavily depend on the change (if any) of the assessed value of your home. I hope this helps answer your question. Sorry if it doesn't.
Aidan April 22, 2011 at 08:00 PM
"On a $500,000 home that probably equates to at least a $800 increase to your school taxes." Gulp!
Rick April 24, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Aidan, You shouldn't mind that , Its for a better school system! It will bring up your home value or so the pro- increase people will have you think. it's only 2.3 million THIS YEAR. Next year we'll go for more ,don't you worry.You have to vote to approve it ,don't let the poor children go without after school activities,band, sports.Let's not ask the poor staff to freeze their wages, they can't live on the small amount they receive.If it dose not pass the first time we will let you vote again till we wear you out and it too will pass.Why not ask the BOE to make cuts in the new employee contract,it's up in June.- 0 % increase- plus larger co-payments in the medical package, cut out state mandates unless the state will pay for it.Tell them we're mad as he-- and not going to take it anymore! Maybe we can save some money by not sending the "pass the budget " package of paperwork home with the children reminding the parents to vote for increases.
FJT April 29, 2011 at 01:42 PM
One of our selectmen was heard to say that Port Chester never lost money on a foreclosure. That gave me a real warm and fuzzy feeling. Is that the plan? Force people out of their homes so we can give teachers regular raises while 95% of the rest of the population can barely keep its head above water. Real nice. VOTE NO!
FJT June 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Vision Appraisals appears to have done many appraisals in our village without ANY visual inspection. I'm wondering, is this the norm? Also, in my building, many condos went up in appraised value while others went down. In speaking with my neighbors, there's no rhyme or reason to any of this. Some that were renovated lost actually lost value while mine, which hasn't been touched in 11 years, saw a very significant increase. "Sloppy", "incompetent", "unfair" and "rude" are the words that quickly come to mind. When I attended a hearing with Visual Appraisals, I thought my situation was to be straightened out on the basis of the facts I presented (facts and figures), but lo and behold I received a letter 30 days later, indicating the increase value was to stand. (No explanation was provided.) WHO HIRED THISE PEOPLE??? AND WHY??? I ASK THAT OTHER VILLAGERS WHO WERE SIMILARY TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF COME FORWARD ON THIS BLOG. CLEARLY, AN INVESTIGATION IS WARRANTED.

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