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2015-16 Bedford School Budget Plan Stays Within Tax Cap, Cuts Jobs

Bedford Central school board members at their March 11 meeting.
Bedford Central school board members at their March 11 meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The proposed 2015-16 budget for the Bedford Central School District stays within the state-mandated tax levy cap while including several job cuts.

The budget, which comes in at nearly $125.6 million, was unveiled by district administrators at the school board's March 11 meeting.

The budget calls for a total tax levy of around $115.1 million a percentage increase of 1.71 percent. The levy amount is the same as the highest-permitted level under the cap.

The tax cap calls for limiting levy increases to the lesser of two percent or the rate of inflation. The most recent inflation figure given by the state, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Mark Betz, is 1.62 percent. However, the school district's highest-allowable amount is higher due to an exemption that involves factoring in change to the local tax base.

The tax levy represents the total amount of tax revenue for the budget but does not measure the burden per taxpayer.

Tax rates for the district's five towns, which represent how much taxpayers will owe, were not yet available.

The district's budget also estimates that it will receive more than $10.8 million in non-property tax revenue, including state aid, tuition, shared sales-tax money from Westchester County and rental/building usage income.

The budget also calls for using $2 million in fund balance (surplus) money.

The use of fund balance for annual budgets has been a topic of concern this school year due to reports from Moody's Investors Service and the New York State' Comptroller's office , which caution against using it excessively, it was previously noted.

A proposal floated by one of the district's committees has been to phase out fund-balance usage so that none is included for the 2017-18 budget.

The proposed job cuts, which are part of more than $2.2 million in projected cost reductions, are also key to balancing the budget.

The moves include cutting some elementary aide positions so that there are more part-time personnel used during times when their help is more in demand, with fewer full-time staffers used. Four elementary school-level sections would be cut, as would a part-time physical education job in connection with the aforementioned changes.

A television tech member's position also be cut and several positions may be eliminated due to anticipated retirements.

One position eyed for elimination is the transportation supervisor. Betz explained that the current supervisor will retire at the end of the month and that he will assume workload from it. However, clerical support would also be added to help.

Other cuts include , it was explained, deferring work on the bridge for the central office, cutting two bus runs, getting rid of a contracted security firm and spending less on security consulting. Explaining the reasons for security budget reductions, Betz cited changes to district security procedures, along with increase surveillance equipment having been installed.

The budget is subject to change and the board is slated to vote on adopting it in April. The public will vote on the budget in May.

Budget highlights can be read here.

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