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Tough Budget Ahead for Pleasantville Schools

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Pleasantville school officials will be faced with a tough choice in this budget year -- override the tax cap, or dip deeply into the district's rainy day fund to make ends meet.

The Pleasantville Union Free School District debt service fund will dwindle to around $1.3 million following the 2011-12 budget.  Assistant Superintendent for Business David Quattrocchi informed the Board of Education that if the district wishes to continue to stay under the state mandated two percent tax levy cap, they may need to transfer another $1 million from the debt service fund for the 2012-13 school year, leaving only $300,000 in the fund for the future.

“In the near future, the district will be fine financially,” Quattrocchi said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But as we use more and more of the fund balances, if the district decides not to use those in the future that money would need to come from somewhere else.”

The decreasing debt service fund comes after the district decided to transfer $1 million from the fund to their 2011-12 budget in order to bridge their gap for expenditures. In the 2010-11 budget, the district used only $150,000 from the debt service fund. The increase comes in order to finance expenditures such as additions and renovations made to buildings in the district and to offset increasing teacher and employee benefits while facing a decrease in state aid.

Given their revenues and expenditures, Quattrocchi estimates that the district can increase their tax levy by just over $600,000 for the 2012-13 budget, or 1.9%.

The decreasing debt service fund, combined with increasing appropriated fund balance, will leave the district with a tough decision going forward whether they want to continue using the funds to bridge the gap in their funding resources, or increase the tax levy.

“We have some crucial decisions to make in the near future about our budget that the board will discuss,” said Pleasantville Union Free School District President Lois Winkler at a board meeting last week.

For the 2011-12 school year, the district also budgeted $2.1 million of their appropriated fund balance after budgeting less than $1.5 million in 2010-11. Quattrocci said that the current fund balance for the district sits at around $7.1 million.

The district also faces increased expenditures going forward as there are capital improvement projects on the horizon, such as replacing the high school’s turf field and tennis courts, installing security cameras at the middle school, and continued regular maintenance.

“There are certain projects that will be up for discussion by the board that will ultimately need to be acknowledged,” Quattrocchi said.

A complete copy of Quattrocchi’s long term financial projections report to the Board of Education can be found on the district’s website. The Board of Education will hold their first preliminary budget work session next Tuesday, January 24, at the Pleasantville High School library.

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