The following was submitted by the Yorktown Central School District administration and school board
Adhering to the Tax Cap: A Given
Educating the Community: A Must
The Board of Education and Administration of the Yorktown Central School District understands taxpayers’ concerns; they have and will continue to work hard to maintain low tax rates. In fact, over the past three years, the District has repeatedly stayed below a 2% tax levy increase. The District will comply with the New York State tax cap legislation, yet the cap will cause a gap between the standard operating budget and the funds required to support educational programs and activities. The Board and Administration intend to continue to educate the community about what the tax cap means relative to this gap and to work together to look for solutions for the upcoming school year, and more importantly, for the years to come.
Well over 100 unfunded and underfunded mandates required by the state and federal governments are causing a gap representing approximately 17 percent of the annual operating costs for our school district, which translates to about $18 million in Yorktown’s current budget. Perhaps there would be less concern about these mandates if school districts could expect relief in the form of subsidies, or if there were alternative sources of revenue besides taxing residents. This gap cannot easily be corrected now or in the future simply by continuing to maximize resources, freeze budgets and cut costs.
In addition to the tax cap legislation and the unfunded mandates, sources of concern for school districts are business tax certioraris. A business tax certiorari permits local businesses to challenge their current and past tax assessments. If a challenge is upheld, each business is legally allowed to collect up to ten years of claims within only 30 days from Yorktown Schools. Midway through this school year, the Yorktown school district has paid tax certiorari judgments of close to $1 million, nearly 20 times greater than two years ago. Both the mandates and tax certiorari requirements are prohibitively expensive to the present model of education finance.
Over the last five years, the district has been fiscally prudent and will continue to exercise discretion in financial management. The Board and Administration will continue to comply with legislation, maximize resources, reduce spending and freeze budgets when warranted. We also support the Foundation for Excellence in Yorktown Schools and other fundraising organizations, and are investigating alternative funding sources.
This is an important year of transition and all are asked to work together to write legislators to support mandate relief and to legislate certiorari reform. Public support is needed to help identify new funding sources, to back the local organizations that support Yorktown schools, and to stay informed.
The district serves approximately 3,600 pupils in five schools: Brookside and Mohansic Elementary Schools, Crompond Intermediate School, Mildred E. Strang Middle School and Yorktown High School.
Please visit the Yorktown Central School District website regularly at www.yorktown.org for updated information, including a calendar of Board of Education budget work sessions and business meetings, informative documents and links. The next budget work session will be at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 30, 2012 at the Mildred E. Strange Middle School cafeteria. Topics will include the Athletics and Co-Curricular budget discussion.
Videos of Board of Education meetings can be viewed on the district website at www.yorktown.org. Meetings are shown at 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on FIOS Channel 27 and at the same times on Cablevision Channel 18 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.