Bedford Schools Make More Cuts To Keep Budget Under Tax Cap

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Mike Betz (left), assistant superintendent for business and administrative services, and Jerry Hochman (right) school superintendent, present the 2014-2015 preliminary budget.
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.
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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"negotiations with all unions which resulted in a significantly reduced trajectory of salary and benefit increases (reduced to 3 percent)..."
But, everyone still gets automatic raises, regardless of performance. The trajectory still points up from now until the end.

I work in the private sector and since 2008, have received a few raises, along with a hefty paycut. The paycut came because the money wasn't there for my company. We ALL received that paycut (61 of us)... not because we were doing a bad job, but because sales were down and our partners didn't want to fire anyone. The family members that run my company participated in the paycut as well. This is what needs to happen here. The BCSD needs a paycut. The tax base cannot support this astronomical budget any longer. Most teachers are doing a great job, but they --along with all administrators-- need a paycut. Everyone keeps their jobs, but make a little less. 5% paycut across the board. Maybe 7%. I've made due, they will too. The math, long-term, leads to default if we don't do something like this.

Who in our local and state governments has the courage to really stand up to the unions? Someone better, real soon. Time is running out.

Same old same old. What the district officials don't tell the taxpayers is each year it has a built-in surplus of $3 - $5 million in each current budget. It's all in the independent audit.
Problem is the Board isn't very independent minded. They are easily mislead. Sad, but this has been the case for years. There are millions of dollars sitting in phony reserves, plus $4+ million in the undesignated fund balance.
The district could be more honest about it's budgeting process. Don't hold your breath.

These people stink. And the union are crooks. The BCSD rankings are awful for the money that is spent. Nobody is being held accountable - they should clear out the entire board, they are doing a lousy job. Look at the ny state school rankings and see if the money is being spent well