Tax bills for homeowners in the Bedford Central School district will be slightly higher than forecast in June.
At the time of the 2011-12 school district budget passing, taxes were projected to decrease 3.01 percent in Bedford and increase by 11.2 percent in Mt. Kisco, 2.86 percent in Pound Ridge, 7.25 percent in New Castle and 3.4 percent in North Castle.
They are now set to drop 2.84 percent in Bedford and increase by 11.38 percent in Mt. Kisco, 3.04 percent in Pound Ridge, 7.44 percent in New Castle and 3.58 percent in North Castle.
“The tax levy has not changed since June 15,” said Mark Betz, assistant superintendent for business, at Wednesday’s school board meeting. “What has changed in between the time we put the budget together and the time we put tax rates together is that the tax rolls have closed and the number of small claims or certiorari claims cause changes. Where assessments have gone down slightly, the tax base goes down and rates go up slightly.”
District residents had previously approved a $118,980,000 budget, which included a 1.8 percent tax increase. The tax levy, which is the portion of the budget funded through property taxes, did not change from what it was set at June 15: $105,231,561. However, said Betz, a review of the district’s un-audited June 30 financials showed about $315,000 fewer dollars in the coffers than what was previously estimated.
The difference was a result of about $127,000 less than expected in revenue—mostly due to a drop in state aid and county sales tax revenue. On the expenditure side, the district shelled out an additional $188,000 more than planned because of higher health claim costs and special education obligations.
The school board approved a $4.4 million appropriation from the district’s fund balance to reduce the tax levy, leaving $4,441,106, or 3.73 percent of next year’s budget, in fund balance—under the four percent limit in undesignated fund balance the district is allowed to keep under state law.
The resolution to approve the tax warrant was approved by Susan Elion Wollin, school board president, and board members Erika Long, Jennifer Gerken, Suzanne Grant and Graham Anderson. Mark Chernis and Eric Karle were absent from the meeting.
Betz noted that this year the district was unable to calculate the amount of the tax levy that would be apportioned to STAR exemptions (New York State School Tax Relief Program), which provides partial relief from school property taxes for homeowners earning less than $500,000.
“The state has now capped the amount a person can save on their taxes at 2 percent of the prior years’ savings,” he said. “It’s another way for the state to reduce their burden to pay for their portion of the tax levy. It used to be we could determine how much the state would pay us in STAR payments, but with the cap, we won’t know the savings until the tax bills are produced by town assessors.”
The first half of the school tax bills will be sent to residents prior to September 1.
Check back with Patch later today for other news from Wednesday’s board meeting.