Weeks after inspiring protest, the Hendrick Hudson School District’s proposed $70 million budget—cutting people and programs—drew barely a comment at a public hearing Wednesday.
The budget now goes to the voters, who likely will have the last word May 15.
Reflecting essentially the same economies unveiled in March, when some 200 vocal people turned out, the final 2012-13 budget attracted about 20 for its mandated hearing in thelibrary Wednesday. While most wore T-shirts in Sailors’ blue, white letters identifying them as members or supporters of the teachers union, none spoke.
Last month, the school board adopted the proposed $70,603,156 budget. It called for a number of economies, some of them contingent on negotiations still under way with the teachers union.
Spending cuts, needed to bring the district’s tax levy below the state’s new tax-cap, could result in 33 layoffs, half of them teachers, and the elimination of things like extra-curricular activities, music classes, professional development and special education tuition. Trustee Carson Jacobs, alone among the board members, pressed for a budget that averted severe cuts by ignoring the tax-cap’s restrictions. On Wednesday, all board members, like the public, remained largely mum.
The hearing’s lone speaker, Jason Rosenberg of Croton-on-Hudson, discussed potential scheduling issues he and his family faced as they await final word on program cuts. Dr. Alice Gottlieb, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and professional personnel, assured him his children were not affected by the cuts under consideration.
In the end, the only voice that truly counts will belong to the public, which votes on the spending plan a week from Tuesday. Voters will also be asked to approve a $500,000 bond to finance roof improvements at the high school and Polls are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Frank G. Lindsey School on Trolley Road in Montrose.
Under the proposed budget, property owners would see a $427,112 increase in the overall tax levy—the figure governed by tax-cap restrictions—to $40,634,694, a hike of about 1.06 percent. The cap limits increases in the tax levy to a fixed percentage above the previous year’s.
If a district adopts a budget that calls for increases exceeding the cap, as Jacobs proposed in voting against adoption last month, it not only must say so but also achieve approval by 60 percent of the voters, not a simple majority. Jacobs’ fellow members said they did not believe a cap-busting budget could garner that much public support.
Under the adopted budget, Hen Hud tax rates would both rise and fall, increasing by about 1.72 percent in Cortlandt while decreasing by 1.66 percent in Peekskill.
Differences in municipal equalization rates and final assessment rolls create wide variations in Hen Hud school tax bills. A $420,000 Cortlandt home, assessed at about $7,700, for example, would face a $106 increase in school taxes for 2012-2013. But in Peekskill, where a $220,000 house would have the same $7,700 assessed value, the homeowner would pay $73 less in school taxes in the coming year.