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Benefits, Debt, Strangle Briarcliff Schools Budget

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. - More than 27 percent of the Briarcliff School District's annual budget is used for employee benefits and debt service.

In the second in a series of seven planned sessions on the separate components of the budget, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Technology Stuart Mattey outlined the bare bones figures for the Board of Education.

The board is slated to adopt a budget for the 2012-13 school year on April 16. The community-wide vote on the budget will be held May 15.

Employee benefits for 300 active employees and 100 retired workers is projected to cost $10.1 million next year. Board of Education President Guy Rotondo noted over the last five years employee benefits have increased $2 million.

"It's pretty sobering stuff," Rotondo remarked.

The district's debt service for principal and interest of four bonds next year is $3.3 million. One of the bonds stems from a 2006 oil spill at Todd Elementary School. The district currently owes more than $25 million in outstanding bonds.

Looking ahead, Rotondo is hopeful Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plans for reforming employee pensions could be beneficial to the district, noting pension costs have risen 50% over the last four years from $2 to $3 million.

"That has the potential to provide the state and our district with millions of dollars in the long run," Rotondo said.

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