IRVINGTON, N.Y. – An estimated $1.7 million budget shortfall has Irvington school officials mulling whether they want to cut programs across the board or try to override the tax cap limit.
“It appears we are at a bit of a crossroads,” School Board Vice President Phil Whitney said.
The Irvington Board of Education began preliminary budget discussions Tuesday night by looking at a 2013-14 budget that maintained the status quo. The preliminary budget includes estimates for things that have a big impact, such as health-care costs and tax certiorari payments.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Beverly Miller said the district expects to lose revenue in earned interest, but is optimistic it will receive a slight increase in state aid. Miller also estimated that pension costs will rise to a total of $1.2 million next year. Health-care costs, she estimates, will increase by eight percent.
A status quo budget would mean a 3.4 percent tax rate increase, Miller said, but that does not include changes in staff, enrollment and potential program cuts.
Irvington Superintendent Kristopher Harrison said the district would aim for a fiscally-responsible budget, keeping in mind that Irvington residents pay high property taxes. But Harrison also said the district has an obligation to provide students with the best education possible and said another round of budget cuts would affect beloved programs.
He said that budget discussions are started “in the context of what our constraints may look like.”
School board members are encouraging residents to get involved in the budget discussion, especially in the wake of the estimated shortfall. Many school board members said they wanted to at least discuss overriding the tax cap instead of cutting programs.
Whitney said a decision on the tax cap would need to be made quickly.
“I am currently challenged, because I can't see how we can cut $1.7 million,” he said.
The next budget discussion will take place Jan. 8.