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Webutuck School budget vote is Tuesday, May 17

WEBUTUCK — With just one week left until the annual school district budget vote, the Webutuck Board of Education (BOE) made sure the public was brought up to speed on this year’s budget development process at the public hearing for the 2022-23 budget on Monday, May 9.

The BOE convened for the meeting at 7 p.m. over Zoom. Before turning the budget presentation over to Webutuck Business Administrator Robert Farrier, Webutuck BOE President Judy Moran invited this year’s BOE candidates to introduce themselves to the public.

In addition to voting on the approval of the 2022-23 district budget and a proposition for a transportation vehicle purchase, district voters will be asked to cast their ballots for the election of two BOE members to fill the expiring seats of incumbent BOE members Christopher Mayville and John Merwin. If elected, BOE candidates will serve a three-year term starting Friday, July 1 through June 30, 2025. This year’s BOE candidates are Nichole Reyes and Anthony Robustelli. Reyes presented her candidates for the Webutuck BOE at the board’s recent meeting; Robustelli was unable to attend.

A resident of Millerton, Reyes introduced herself as “the mother of a rising Pre-K and first grader at Webutuck.” On the weekends, Reyes said the community will see her and her husband volunteering at their son’s baseball and soccer games; Reyes is also a volunteer at the North East Community Center in Millerton as part of the organization’s Events Committee. During the week, Reyes is an operational and administrative consultant. Before moving to the community in 2020, Reyes worked as executive director at a nonprofit for children with disabilities in New York City; she also outlined her experience working for a private equity firm in the city. 

Regarding her decision to run for the BOE, she told BOE members she hoped her experience and passion will be an asset to the board and bring another parent’s voice to the table.

Reviewing many of the items presented at previous BOE meetings, Farrier said the proposed 2022-23 district budget came to $25,039,114, totaling a 1% (or $240,031) budget-to-budget increase from the 2021-22 district budget. The proposed tax levy limit came to $16,973,699. Farrier said this year’s maximum allowable levy was 4.9% and the district’s proposed levy came to 4.7%.

As for the revenue required for the budget, Farrier said state aid and other sources comprised $6,165,415, and the district will be using $1.9 million of its appropriated fund balance. Additions to the budget include a certified health teacher; a Pre-K teacher and special education teacher to accommodate additional sections of Pre-K and special education; a social worker; and an Academic Intervention Services teacher in each building to close the learning gap.

Looking at budget components, Farrier said about 76% of the budget goes to programs while 3.3% of the budget is capital costs and about 10% is administrative costs.

If the budget isn’t passed as proposed and the BOE chooses to either go directly to a contingent budget or put up another budget, Farrier said in the event that the two budgets aren’t passed, they’d go to a contingent budget. He said the amount to be reduced under a contingent budget from the proposed budget would be $756,970, totaling $24,282,144. Under the contingent budget, Farrier said the tax levy can be higher than the previous year’s levy; the administrative cap is applied and can be no more than 9.8%; and it’d be up to the BOE to decide what items are contingent expenses.

Looking at the estimated 2022-23 full value tax rate based on the 2022 tentative roll assessment, Farrier said under the proposed budget, the projected True Value Tax Rate is $10.56 per $1,000 assessed value. However, he noted in his presentation that final tax rates won’t be available until August.

The Webutuck school district budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 17, from 12 to 9 p.m. in the Webutuck High School gymnasium. Farrier encouraged the public to contact him or Webutuck Superintendent of Schools Raymond Castellani with any questions they might have.

Since there was no public comment, the BOE closed the public hearing at 7:16 p.m. and proceeded with its meeting.

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