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Proposed Somers School Budget Would Raise Taxes 1.58 percent

The cost of teachers' salaries and benefits makes up more than $52 million of the $85.31 million proposed 2014-15 budget.
The cost of teachers' salaries and benefits makes up more than $52 million of the $85.31 million proposed 2014-15 budget. Photo Credit: Somers School District

SOMERS, N.Y. – Property taxes would go up $167 for Somers homeowners with an average assessed value of $70,000 under the 2014-15 proposed budget for the Somers Central School District.

The $85.31 million spending plan would increase the property tax bill by 1.58 percent to $153.87 per $1,000 of assessed value. It raises the total amount of taxes collected – the property tax levy – by 1.73 percent to $73.68 million.

“It’s a well put together budget educationally for the students and for the community who supports the schools,” said Kenneth Crowley, assistant superintendent for business.

The district had to cut about $650,000 to balance the budget, which includes a net reduction of 3.8 teachers and one support staff position. While the budget adds one full-time equivalent teacher at the middle school to ensure class sizes remain steady, it cuts four elementary teaching positions due to decreasing enrollment. Other cuts include a .2 music teacher position and a .6 physical education teacher position.

There are about 100 less incoming kindergarten students than outgoing high school seniors for the 2014-2015 school year. Teacher salaries and benefits constitute about 70 cents of every dollar the district spends.

“We’ve gotten lucky with decreasing enrollment where we were able to reduce teachers,” Crowley said.

Declining enrollment and use of $1.3 million in unappropriated fund balance allowed the district to expand some new programs, including the use of tablets for students in grades seven through 12. The initiative began this year in grades eight through 10.

However, the voters will have to decide in the coming years between higher taxes or major program cuts if nothing changes.

“It gets more and more difficult every year to deal with it,” Crowley said.

Crowley said a proposition that will accompany the budget would create a capital reserve fund for future building maintenance needs. If approved, the district would have to have a public vote anytime it decides to use those funds.

The Somers school board will vote to adopt the proposed budget April 22. After a public hearing May 13, it will be put to a public vote May 20 at the Somers Middle School.

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