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Chappaqua Schools Dip into Fund Balance for Budget

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - The Chappaqua Central School District is dipping into its fund balance to help foot the bill for the 2012-13 school year.

With a state-mandated tax cap restricting the amount of money residents can be taxed, local school districts are being forced to look elsewhere to keep up with increasing budget costs.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Business John Chow, the district is proposing to use $3 million from its remaining $16 million fund balance in 2012-13. The district used $4.25 million of the balance in 2011-12.

"I think you heard that last year I was concerned. I’m more concerned now," Chow said. "At that time, we didn't have the tax cap rule. Now, we have that."

The fund balance consists of already-paid taxpayer dollars that was set aside by the district for potential claims, liability, retirement contributions, repairs, tax certioraris, and more.

Using the $3 million from the balance would bring the distict's budget within the allowable tax cap. The projected budget shows a tax levy increase from about $98.9 million to about $101 million. With the help of several exemptions, the 2.11 percent increase satisfies the cap.

Some residents, worrying budget cuts could weaken the programs, suggested the district use even more of the balance. Board of Education President Alyson Kiesel, however, said the remaining balance is one of the only things keeping the programs afloat.

"Fund balance enables us to stay under the tax cap and preserve our programs for a little bit longer than the other districts," Kiesel said. "There are districts that don’t have fund balance that get a huge portion of their funding from state aid, unlike our district. And those districts are going to hit the iceberg very, very soon."

Chow's entire presentation about the district's fund balance can be viewed on the district's website.

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