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Bedford Schools Make More Cuts To Keep Budget Under Tax Cap

Mike Betz (left), assistant superintendent for business and administrative services, and Jerry Hochman (right) school superintendent, present the 2014-2015 preliminary budget. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Bedford School Board President Susan Wollin comments on the 2014-2015 preliminary budget. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

BEDFORD, N.Y. – Bedford residents would see a 2.99 percent drop in their property tax bill under the 2014-2015 Bedford Central School District preliminary budget, while residents from Pound Ridge, New Castle and North Castle will see an increase.

The tax rate would drop in Bedford to $134.29 per $1,000 of assessed value. It would increase in:

  • Mount Kisco by 5.75 percent to $73.45 per $1,000 of assessed value
  • Pound Ridge by 4.31 percent to $83.89 per $1,000 of assessed value
  • New Castle by 8.86 percent to $73.03 per $1,000 of assessed value
  • North Castle by 7.84 percent to $650.47 per $1,000 of assessed value

While no major programs were cut in the $123.5 million budget, School Superintendent Jere Hochman said this will be the last year he will be able to say that.

“In spite of negotiations with all unions which resulted in a significantly reduced trajectory of salary and benefit increases (reduced to 3 percent), the board’s use of reserves ($3 million), and previous year’s cuts and efficiencies, this budget includes over $2 million in cuts and some changes in service expectations,” he said.

The preliminary budget cuts 24 positions, including 10 elementary and four high school aides. This adds onto the 140 that Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administrative Services Mark Betz said have been cut in last five years. The budget also adds 6.8 full-time equivalent positions, including two senior office assistants to replace the four high school aides.

The proposed 1.16 percent tax levy increase, or $113.17 million, falls within the property tax cap, which limits the allowable tax levy increase for 2014-2015 to 1.41 percent. But, Hochman said they will have to think about overriding the cap in future years to prevent those major program cuts.

A supermajority of residents must approve the budget in order to override the cap.

School Board President Susan Wollin said the district is pressuring the state to repay the approximately $1.1 million in aid it has reallocated to other areas of the state budget in the last three years. She said Bedford is due to receive only $46,000 of that money this year and its total state aid represents 1.5 percent of the school budget.

Several budget meetings are scheduled in March. The board will adopt a final budget in April, and then the public will vote on it in May.

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