BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – The Briarcliff school district is out of borrowed time and money, and officials are expecting some tough decisions when determining the 2013-14 district budget.
Briarcliff Manor school board members said Monday during a work session that they are giving the district’s administration and staff time to come up with a solid budget for the 2013-14 school year that falls within the property tax levy cap. Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey said he expects the employee and teacher retirement contributions to rise about $1 million next year. Mattey added that the district has run out of its reserve funding and it's likely any budget gap would need to be made up with a higher tax levy.
“Either the budget needs to decrease or the tax levy needs to increase,” Mattey said, adding that the district spent nearly $800,000 last year out of reserve funds to pay the retirement contributions. “We’ve been using our fund balance the last few years to make our budget whole. But we’re not able to sustain that going into next year.”
With the cancellation of a previous board meeting in January, board President Sal Maglietta acknowledged Monday that the board has taken its time to discuss the budget.
“This board has given extra time to this administration to figure out how to deal with a series of very, very tough challenges,” Maglietta said. “This community has been very, very fortunate to have lots of reserves over the years. What that has done in the past three years is allowed our taxpayers to artificially pay a lower tax rate than what has actually cost the district to run the place.”
Board member Michael Haberman said that rising expenditures and the declining reserves will both come into play during this year’s budget process
“Essentially we have costs that are going to go up that we have no control over in the neighborhood of $2 million and at the same time we’ve used up our savings account,” Haberman said. “So we’re really getting it on both ends.”
The Briarcliff Board of Education is set to hear an expanded budget presentation on Feb. 25, with budget community cafes scheduled for Feb. 27 and March 19. Maglietta said it was vital that community members attend those sessions.
“There will be trade-offs, and those trade-offs need to be understood by the community,” Maglietta said. “This budget will force us to make some really tough choices. If people don’t share with us, the worst thing that could happen to this community is a failed budget vote. This is a very, very important turning point budget.”