BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Officials from the Bedford Central School District and three of its component towns recently met to hear a presentation that included a radical but hypothetical scenario: having Mount Kisco leave the district.
Such a divorce was part of a study by Vincent Morrow, a Bedford resident who has sat on the district's Budget Advisory Committee. The study's purpose was to examine the tax-contribution differences for each of the district's five overlapping towns and in comparison to how many students are from each.
Morrow's study, based on district data and town assessment rolls, shows that Mount Kisco provides nearly 40 percent of total student enrollment but that just shy of 20 percent of the district's tax levy is paid from there.
Bedford has around 38 percent of the enrollment and a levy share of nearly 48 percent. Pound Ridge's enrollment is around 17 percent while its levy share is around 26 percent.
The small portions of New Castle and North Castle that are in the district had spreads in the low single digits for the respective figures.
On per-pupil basis, the data show that the tax contribution figure is $12,786 for Mount Kisco, $32,420 for Bedford and $38,473 for Pound Ridge.
Morrow's analysis counted 4,338 students that are not attending based on out-of-residency tuition payments
If Mount Kisco separated, the data show that its per-pupil spending would be the lowest in the state, although it was acknowledged by attendees that state aid would likely increase. Additionally, the initial per-pupil amount only included tax revenue.
A standalone district's tax levy would be about $22 million and its enrollment would be around 1,700. In order to get per-pupil contribution up to the average of the district's other towns, Morrow's findings note that the tax levy would have to more than double, a scenario that he doesn't support.
In contrast, the remainder of the district would have per-pupil spending soar, rising by 21 percent from $28,855 to $34,947, which Morrow described as the highest level in the immediate area. If the figure was frozen at the current level (excluding Mount Kisco), Morrow projects an average tax drop of 25 percent.
Morrow repeatedly emphasized that he doesn't advocate a split, saying of the study's scenarios, “because that’s messy and that’s a long-term problem that’s going to hurt everyone.”
Even a hypothetical divorce did not sit well with some who were present. For example, school board member Suzanne Grant called the scenarios “a little bit inflammatory.” She also would like to see vetting of the findings for the district.
Mount Kisco Interim Village Manager Gennaro Faiella noted reasons for the gap to examine other than enrollment, such as the large differences in property values between municipalities, along with the larger amounts of condos and townhouses in the village.
Under state law, condos and townhouses is taxed differently than single-family structures, although municipalities can remove the difference if it's done in conjunction with a town-wide property revaluation. Developers can also agree when the housing is built to have it taxed like single-family homes, a status known as fee-simple.
One remedy he floated would be for the municipalities to each do revaluations.
There was also interest from attendees in lobbying for changes to the state-aid funding formula.
The March 11 meeting, which included elected officials from Mount Kisco, Pound Ridge and Bedford, ended without consensus, although nobody ruled out further dialogue.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.