MAHOPAC, N.Y. - For the first time in recent memory, taxpayers in the Mahopac School District will actually see decrease in their tax rate, albeit a small one.

School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon gave his budget presentation to the Board of Education last week and announced that the tax rate for residents in the town of Carmel will drop from $40.55 to $40.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Putnam Valley residents will see a decrease from $24.33 to $24.30 per $1,000.

“It’s the first time we have done this in many years, if ever,” Creedon said. “We are able to make these projections simply because of the fiscal oversight of our board and the stewardship that our financial superintendent (Ron Clamser) has had in making sure we count every penny.”

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The overall budget comes in at $120,119,052, up $120,285 from last year, or .10 percent.

The tax levy—the amount of money to be raised by taxes—saw a very slight decrease of .12 percent, going from $84,101,189 to $84,000,268.

“This is the smallest increase in the tax levy and the operating budget in 10 years,” Creedon said.

And this was all done, Creedon said, without any layoffs or program cuts.
“In the coming year we will maintain all the programs and services that our community has come to expect and our children need,” he said.

Creedon said the budget will meet the needs of special education students with individual education plans (IEP) and will expand English language learner (ELL)) services. It will also expand clinical support at high school and middle school. It also adds an elementary assistant principal to free up principals for instructional leadership and expands informational technology support in the elementary schools.

The proposed 2016-17 budget expenditures are made up of 58 percent instruction and services to children; 27 percent employee benefits and debt service; 7 percent buildings and grounds; 5.4 percent transportation and 1.9 percent central administration.

Revenue garnered is through 70 percent property taxes; 26.6 state aid and 1.7 from the fund balance, as well as some other smaller miscellaneous categories.
“The budget is conservative, but at the same time it meets the needs of the district,” Creedon said. “We cannot give everything to everyone. What we do is ensure that the needs of our young people are addressed. This budget is one that I think the people should support and is one that I think we can be proud of.”

Board President Mike Sclafani said the School Board has worked hard to find new approaches to its fiscal responsibilites.

“It was difficult in the beginning because people were comfortable with the way things were done, but as we get smarter and we continue to look at exactly how we spend our money we are going to continue to save money,” he said.

Sclafani said putting this budget together was a team effort.

“This board has been extremely diligent at looking at expenditures and figuring out ways to be better and more efficient and at cheaper costs,” he said. “We always have the children in mind; that’s the number one thing. If you take a look at the surrounding school districts you will often see districts with deficits of millions of dollars—but it is through the teachers and administrators and the entire community pulling together and changing the way we do things [that we are able to do this].

“We will continue to be diligent; we want to be in a position where layoffs are not a question,” he added.