MONTROSE, N.Y. -- An audience of about two dozen, most wearing Hendrick Hudson Education Association (HHEA) blue T-shirts, sat silent during a call for public comment on the contentious budget.
The HHEA and the school district have been in negotiations for about a year and a half, another meeting is scheduled next week. The district is asking the teachers union to take no increase in salaries, as part of concessions.
“We know it’s difficult for the teachers, it’s difficult for the administrators,” said board president, Marion Walsh, about the ongoing negotiations.
Board member Charles Thompson said that negotiations and budgeting are emotional and tiring.
“It’s concessions to the economic reality that has changed for us,” Thompson said.
The public hearing was a formality for the board, the budget has already been adopted by the board and will go to public vote May 15. If the budget fails twice the district will be forced to have a 0 percent year-to-year budget increase, a measure officials said would devastate the district.
The adopted budget eliminates 33 positions in the district if teachers do not take a zero increase, or if the current expired contract continues. If teachers take a zero increase, the district said 26 positions, instead of 33, will be eliminated.
The total budget, which will be presented to voters May 15 is $70,603,157, with a tax levy increase of 1.06. The district is using their maximum allowable levy under the New York State tax cap, which due to a complex formula is different for each district.
The proposed budget will increase the tax rate in the Town of Cortlandt to $962.40 per $1,000 of assessed home value, an increase of $13.76. The total school tax bill for a home assessed at $7,700, about $440,000 market value, will be $7,411.
In the City of Peekskill, which accounts for a small portion of the district’s tax levy, the rate will decrease $9.50, because of a change in the equalization rate. Peekskill homeowners with the same assessed value, market value of $220,000, will see a decrease of $73 from an average bill of $483.79 in 2012-13.