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BCSD Board of Ed Approves 2012-13 Budget

BEDFORD, N.Y.– The 2012-13 school budget was approved Wednesday by the Bedford Central School District Board of Education. The spending plan totals about $122.7 million, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous fiscal year, and calls for a tax levy increase of 2.7 percent.

The budget would cut 55.4 positions – a number that includes the 37 transportation workers who will lose their jobs when the district outsources all of its transportation to Towne Bus Corp. School officials project that the transportation reorganization would save the district $3.7 million over five years.

Non-personnel budget cuts include reducing energy use by 10 percent, minimizing software purchases, finding health plan reductions and reducing high school and middle school clubs, school officials said.

During its previous meeting, the school board decided to add $1 million in capital projects to the budget, which would be appropriated from the coming year’s fund balance. Board members argued the capital projects were necessary to maintain the safety of the students and the longevity of the district’s facilities.

Among other improvements, the proposed capital projects include a new steam boiler for Mount Kisco Elementary School, asbestos testing in all schools, a hot water boiler for Bedford Hills Elementary School, and installation of new kitchen exhaust fans at Bedford Village and Bedford Hills Elementary Schools.

This is the first year the district will be contending with the 2 percent tax cap championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and passed by the state legislature in June. While the law puts a 2 percent limit on the amount of money a district can ask for from taxpayers, the district said its 2.7 percent increase still stays within the cap because the calculations include a series of exemptions.

These exemptions, which account for employee pension contribution increases and overall changes to the property tax base, and include capital projects like the ones the district is proposing, are arrived at through a mathematical formula set out by the new law.

“The fact that we’re adding construction does not increase the amount of money the taxpayers pay,” Assistant Superintendent Mark Betz said of the capital projects. He added that property tax rates, which will go up an estimated 8.5 percent for Bedford residents and decrease 0.9 percent for residents of Mount Kisco, are affected by the property values in town when subjected to equalization rates, something the district has no control over.

Betz said if this budget is defeated by the public vote May 15, the district would need to present its contingency budget, which Betz said is not an attractive option.

This alternative, which is proposed at about $119.9 million, would mean the budget as it stands now would need to be cut down even more, Betz said. He also noted the contingency spending plan does not provide for capital projects.

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