After being the only Westchester County school district to have its budget rejected earlier this month, the New Rochelle Board of Education has drafted a new budget that stays within the state-mandated tax cap.
This week, the Board unanimously adopted a new $270,381,160 spending plan that “stays within the state tax cap, preserves programming and includes funds to add school counselors and several other positions as well as safety and security measures.”
Earlier this month, voters rejected the district’s initial proposed budget with 3,116 votes against and 1,689 in favor of the proposed $272,804,093 spending plan.
"We knew a tax cap override would be difficult to achieve," Superintendent of Schools Brian Osborne said following the first vote. "The voters have spoken and the administration is listening. We are taking a hard look at the ways by which we can develop a new spending plan that better alleviate the concerns of the District's voters for the June 19 re-vote.”
According to the Board, the cap on the tax levy increase – the amount of money to be raised by property taxes – is 2.231 percent. To stay within that limit, the district administration proposed a series of measures cutting $3.4 million from the tax levy included in the $272.8 million budget voters rejected earlier this month. The tax levy in the new budget is $209,002,162, an increase of $4,560,520 over the levy of $204,441,642 in the current budget.
The budget was unanimously approved by the Board during their Tuesday meeting.
“Tonight, the Board has adopted a budget that addresses the priorities the community made clear to us,” Board President Rachel Relkin noted. “This plan serves our students and our community well while remaining sensitive to the New Rochelle taxpayers.”
The newly adopted budget carries an estimated tax rate of $785.72 per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s an increase of $18.95 per $1,000, or 2.47 percent. The current rate is $766.77 per $1,000. Under the adopted budget, the tax bill for a home assessed at $16,000, the city average, would be $12,571.52, an increase of $303.20. Such a home has an estimated market value of $695,000.
Changes from the initial budget include the elimination of the planned addition of three psychologists and three social workers. The Board also eliminated the inclusion of several contingent positions placed in the budget for unexpected needs.
“By looking anew at all our expenses, we were able to produce a budget that advances the District’s core strategic goals and avoids any unnecessary cuts that would impact on our students or programs,” Osborne added. “By allocating resources responsibly, the budget also protects the fiscal health that we have worked so hard to improve in recent years.”
"We acknowledge that the vote was a resounding rejection of the Board's budget," Relkin said. "To that end, we would like to affirm our collective commitment to creating a revised budget together. We will work collaboratively to ensure that a new budget is developed that strikes the right balance for our community."
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