Proposed Red Hook school budget at historically low 2.48% increase

The proposed 2012-2013 school budget has been adopted by the Red Hook School Board and it calls for a historically low 2.48 percent increase in the property tax levy.

Based on the formula provided by the state, Red Hook’s 2012-2013 tax cap under the new state mandate is calculated to be 2.53 percent.

The new budget totals $46,956,574, an overall increase of 2.27 percent over the prior year. Approximately 63 percent of that is funded through local property taxes.

At the April 12 meeting of the school board in the K-2 library, district business administrator Bruce Martin and Superintendent Paul Finch walked the board and the public through the numbers. The board then unanimously adopted the budget, which will go to the voters on Tuesday, May 15.

The new budget takes advantage of the retirement of seven teachers. They will be replaced by six new hires at lower starting salaries. One position will remain unfilled. In addition, Red Hook’s share of school aid was increased in the recently passed state budget by about $360,000 over last year’s numbers, and there was an additional $300,000 in state aid surplus carried over from last year, according to Martin.

“We got lucky by a couple of things coming in… state aid increases, we had seven retirements… and we were able to trim back our expenditure budget a little bit to close that gap,” Finch said.

According to Finch, Red Hook has actually increased its overall budget slower than the rate of inflation since 2006.

“The tax levy has been going up mainly because state aid has been flat or decreasing significantly,” he said. “This budget that we’re proposing maintains existing programs and opportunities for kids. For us, that’s the most important thing.”

The school officials also said that if voters were to reject the budget twice, that would force a contingency budget with a zero percent increase and another $720,000 in cuts. That could mean 8-10 positions could be eliminated, groups would have to pay for building usage, athletics could face cuts and kindergarten class sizes could increase.

There will be a formal public hearing on the budget on Thursday, May 3 at 7pm at Mill Road Elementary School in the 3-5 cafeteria. Another budget talk and meet-the-candidate night will take place at a joint PTA/PTSA meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 7pm in the Red Hook High School cafeteria.

Voter registration takes place on Wednesday, May 9 from noon until 9pm in the Mill Road 3-5 lobby. If you are registered to vote through the county, you are already eligible to vote. Absentee ballots are available by calling the school district’s administration offices at 845-758-2241.

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