School board adopts 2019-20 budget plan

At a board of education meeting April 9, members of the Scarsdale School District school board voted unanimously to adopt the proposed 2019-20 budget.

The $160,782,597 budget plan increases by $2.9 million, which is 1.86 percent more than the 2018-19 budget. The tax levy increases to $148.6 million versus last year’s actual levy of $145.3 million, which is an increase of 2.27 percent over 2018-19, and is $967,017 below the maximum increase allowed by the tax cap law.

The amount of taxes for the average Scarsdale homeowner, using an average assessed property value of about $1.6 million, will increase to $25,446 from $25,039 or a $407 increase, representing a percentage increase of 1.63 percent. For residents in the Mamaroneck strip, the proposed tax rate increase is 5.56 percent. According to the budget plan, a change in Scarsdale’s equalization rate caused a shift that increased the property tax Mamaroneck residents are responsible for as compared with Scarsdale residents.

The projected 2018-19 fiscal year end surplus is about $2.1 million, and the proposed budget returns $1.1 million of the surplus to offset next year’s tax levy -—a decrease of about $1 million from the 2018-19 level. The district has set a goal to keep the prior year surplus amount at $1.1 million for future budgets.

The district plans a net increase of 1.8 full-time teacher and support staffing, which reflects a net decrease of 2.1 full-time teachers at the elementary level due to an anticipated decrease in enrollment, and a net increase of 2.8 full-time instructors at the high school in the areas of STEAM, mathematics, science and student academic support. The budget plan shows $2.6 million overall growth in this category, but the cost is partially offset by a $1.1 million decrease in obligations for employee benefits.

The facilities budget, which now totals $12 million, increased by $1.2 million, or 10.8 percent, from 2018-19. The annual appropriation for planned repairs and plant improvements is $1.4 million, a decrease of $112,508 from 2018-19.

Safety, security and emergency management saw a 175 percent increase over the previous year, with a planned $1.3 million being spent on an expanded visitor management system, security consultation, and infrastructure to install security cameras.

The budget also includes capital projects the district will be taking on in the new year including $400,000 for elevator repairs at the high school, $385,000 for air conditioning at the Quaker Ridge and Fox Meadow elementary school libraries, $325,000 for districtwide roof repair and brick repointing, and $225,000 to replace the auditorium stage rigging in the middle school due to safety concerns.

Contractual services increased by $648,666 due to updates to visitor management and building safety personnel services.

Board member Nina Cannon expressed appreciation for a transparent and well-organized process.

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