In The Schools
Board of Education members were expected to vote on Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Matusiak’s $50. 6 million proposed budget at their meeting on April 15.
If approved, residents will go to the polls on May 20 for an up or down vote.
The $50,583,424 spending plan is up $2,151,306 from the previous year – a 4.44 percent increase. To support this budget, officials must raise $45,244,248 in school taxes. To do this, residents would pay $565.93 per $1,000 assessed valuation. Therefore, an average assessed homeowner would pay $11,318.60 or $884.20 more than last year. This represents an 8.47 percent increase in the tax rate.
"The tax rate has gone up considerably more than the budget," said Jim Reese, assistant superintendent for business and facility management, "because of a decrease in assessed valuation – which drives the tax rate up – and because of an increase in debt service due to several settlements on tax challenges, or certioraris."
The biggest line item increase is in the category of instruction, which went from $26.1 million to $28.2 million. "A half million of that is due to five special education students coming into the district who will require special services," Reese said in an interview. The other component includes annual salary increases.
However, several new positions, including a middle school math teacher, a part-time gym teacher and four lunch aides, were added by making reductions in other areas, such as one less high school science teacher, two less elementary school teachers and one less attendance clerk.
Matusiak said nobody was fired, explaining that positions were shifted or employees had retired. "This year, the good news is that we’ve saved some money – over $200,000," Matusiak said in an interview. While in the past, employees were required to contribute a small fixed sum towards their health benefits, this year they are required to contribute 8 percent to the premium. Next year, they must contribute 10 percent. Teachers’ contracts are up for renegotiation in June 2009.
If residents reject the budget on May 20, the School Board could present a contingency budget that would be $390,000 less than what is currently proposed. Residents must also choose a candidate to fill one vacancy on the School Board. At press time, Robyn Kerner, an incumbent, was the only person who had filed a petition to serve on the Board. But Matusiak said two other people had requested petitions, and they have until April 21 to file them with the district.
As a formality, residents must also vote to approve $627,781 in-state-funded "Excel Aid" for various construction projects, which would include replacing the gym floor and bleachers as well as the public address system and fire alarm system at Main Street School. Residents might see an impact of $20,000 for the construction because the school would need to pay interest on a bond since it wouldn’t receive the state funds until later.
In the Village
Irvington Village Trustees unanimously adopted a $14,271,000 budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year at their meeting on April 7.
The spending plan, up $314,000 from the previous year, would be sustained by raising $11,758,000 in taxes.
To do this, residents would pay $244.36 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This means that a resident living in an average assessed home would pay $4,887.20 in Village taxes, an increase of $120.20 from the previous year, or 2.52 percent.
One of the major increases in the budget includes an additional $184,920 in debt service from the previous year for a total of $1.5 million. Village Administrator Larry Schopfer said in an interview that the rise in debt service was due to capital expenditures adopted in the fall.
These costs included:
• Police car at a maximum of $31,500
• Sanitation truck at a maximum of $197,500
• Street sweeper at a maximum of $141,500
• Dump truck at a maximum of $118,500
• Replacement of doors at the library at a maximum of $7,500
• Repair of catch basins at a maximum of $35,500
• Repair of sidewalks at a maximum of $35,500
• Repair of curbs at a maximum of $35,500
• Repair of storm water drainage system at $35,500
• Two pick-up trucks with satellite body and plow at a maximum of $37,500 for each
• Two pick-up trucks with plow at a maximum of $32,500 for each
• Radio equipment for the police at a maximum of $35,500
• Renovation of stage rigging for the theater at a maximum of $30,500
• Video projector for the theater at a maximum of $10,500
But in exchange for these capital expenditures, employees were asked to make cuts to their annual departmental budget requests. These cuts were evident when looking at the line items, which had several budgets identical to last year, and there were even several reductions.
One such cut was a $72,582 reduction in the police budget this year. This was also due to an expected retirement of a high-ranking officer, who would be replaced by an officer with a lower rank. The Fire Department and the library are also receiving slightly less than last year.
Irvington residents living in the average assessed home of $20,000 will likely pay about $1,000 more in combined school and village taxes in the 2008-09 fiscal year for a total of $16,205.80. On average, an assessed home is 3.16 percent of the market value.
While Village Trustees already had approved their spending plan in a unanimous vote on April 7, the School Board’s budget remained tentative at press time.