PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester residents could see a reduction in their school taxes next year, while an increase in state aid has allowed the district to add several programs.
The original 2014-15 budget proposed by Superintendent Edward Kliszus was $87,444,708, an increase of 2.65 percent over last year. The recently passed state budget added an additional $1,006,070 in state aid to Port Chester, bringing the total budget up to $88,450,778. The budget is within the state tax levy cap.
Under New York state law, each school district has a different allowable tax levy increase, which is based on the consumer price index, state calculations and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements. Port Chester's tax levy will increase 3.89 percent, which is the amount it is allowed. Kliszus said the main driver of the increase is Altria's PILOT agreement ending and the property going back onto the tax roll. The homeowner's portion of the tax levy will actually decrease 4.74 percent next year, meaning that school taxes should go down for most residents.
The increase in state aid has allowed the district to add some programs this week that would not have made it into the budget otherwise. These programs include a boys and girls swim team for the high school, four teachers at the high school to reduce the amount of study halls that students take, a psychologist at JFK School, home language arts teachers at Park School and Edison School, a Middle School foreign language teacher, department supervisors at the high school, and additional money for extracurricular activities and preventative maintenance.
Kliszus said that community advocacy played a big part in bringing extra money to the district. He said parents and other community members signed an online petition and sent thousands of letters to state legislators.
"I want to thank the parents, the community for the thousands of letters and for constantly going to our legislators," Kliszus said. He said two years ago the district was able to get an additional $1.4 million in state aid, plus the additional $1 million this year. "It's amazing what's accomplished through advocacy, it really does work."
He encouraged the community to register to vote and to come out to vote on the budget on May 20.