Written by Betsy Abraham email@example.com Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00
The Westbury Board of Education voted to adopt a proposed budget of $117, 527,840 with a 1.67 percent tax levy.
The public budget vote takes place May 21. If the budget is not approved then, the district must cut an additional $1,221,015 to achieve a zero percent budget.
Westbury Superintendent Mary Lagnado said that with the tax levy increase, the average yearly cost of school taxes will be $9,167, (based on the average home market value in Westbury of $334,178).
The board was able to save over $1 million by participating in the TRS smoothing, a new state option which will allow the district to pay a fixed rate to its pension fund. For the first two years, the pension rate will be 14 percent, for the next two years it will increase to 16 percent, and for the next three years the rate will go up to 18 percent.
“You’re actually deferring the expense and I feel confident that by reserves and other savings we will be able to meet that,” Lagnado said. “What it does for us now is it saves our kindergarten program, it gives us a sound budget and I think it’s definitely something we should take advantage of,” Lagnado says.
If Westbury were to not take advantage of the TRS option, the tax cap would be 3.11 percent.
The district also saved over $600,000 through attrition of four full time teachers (due to retirement, the district is not letting any teachers go) and changing the bell schedule at Park Avenue. By starting the day 30 to 40 minutes later, and ending later, the district will save $163,000. The savings would result from a combination of busing schedules.
Westbury resident Elaine Lozell expressed her pleasure in the adopted budget.
“I think it’s an excellent budget. It’s genius to think of a plan where we can keep the teaching staff and maintain the academics,” Lozell said.