Modest Increases Proposed in 2016-17 Somers School Budget


SOMERS, N.Y. - Somers school officials offered a preview last week of the budget on which voters will be asked to render a verdict in May.

Still a work in progress, the proposed budget remains subject to change due to internal discussion, public input and external calculations of things like state aid and healthcare costs. Nevertheless, the broad outlines of a financial plan for the 2017-18 academic year were on display at the Feb. 14 school board meeting.

The budget presentation is available online (for a link to the school website, click here). A vote on the budget is scheduled for May 16, a week after a public hearing on the plan.

Sign Up for E-News

At more than $88 million, the proposed Somers Central School District budget calls for neither major new academic initiatives nor any large-scale cuts in programs or manpower.

Teaching cuts at the elementary level where enrollment is declining, for example, are essentially offset by new hiring at the high school, which has an expanding student population.

A full-time maintenance staffer will be added because, as Kenneth Crowley, the assistant superintendent for business, put it, “things break; things wear out. We need people to fix those things.”

The modest hikes in spending and taxes reflect state-imposed budget restrictions. In both instances they rise by barely more than a percentage point and a half over current-year figures.

Specifically, total spending would increase by $1,323,115, or 1.52 percent over this year’s, to $88,224,866. To pay for that, the district relies principally on property taxes, which would rise 1.55 percent to $160.23 for each $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $2.44 over this year’s rate.

At this point, tax rates are the district’s best estimates, likely to hold up but requiring Albany’s blessing. The new rate is based on a total property-tax levy of $75,999,382, a presumably tax-cap-compliant increase.

The state’s five-year-old cap limits year-to-year increases in the property-tax levy to 2 percent or a number pegged to the hike in consumer prices, whichever is less. District calculations put Somers’ allowable levy bump at $1,381,504, an increase of 1.77 percent. But even those numbers are subject to approval by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. They are due to be submitted next month.

School boards are free, of course, to adopt a budget that exceeds the state’s cap calculations. But in that event, the proposed budget must carry the politically toxic label of being non-cap-compliant and must win approval by at least 60 percent of the district’s voters, not a simple majority.

Like the tax-rate figures, revenue estimates are subject to change. While property taxes finance the bulk of the budget, state aid picks up well over 10 percent of Somers’ school district expenses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an estimated aid package of $9,947,019, or some $56,000 less than Albany provided this year.

But the governor’s recommendation, made last month, becomes part of the Legislature’s budget deliberations, which can run through March. Last year, lawmakers scrapped Cuomo’s suggested aid figures and approved a record increase, more than a half-billion dollars statewide, just before the budget’s April 1 deadline. Somers enjoyed a $655,714 windfall as the Legislature did away with a budgetary gimmick that for years has shorted aid to local school districts.

Since 2010, when Albany began withholding a portion of annual state aid under a formula known as “gap elimination adjustment,” Somers schools have been denied some $7 million in aid, district officials say.

At last week’s budget presentation, Crowley recalled the state’s action a year ago and noted, “What they didn’t do was pay back all the money we were entitled to but never received.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


The Feline Night Stalker

Shades of the late Darren McGavin! If you liked the ‘70s horror shows on TV, you knew him as Kolchak, crime reporter, in the series “The Night Stalker.”

It seems that I have a night stalker living with me. My kitty, Bonnie, had her 18th birthday in April and I’ve noticed some subtle changes in her behavior. Up until that time, Bonnie would sleep on my bed at night. She ...

Hitting the road, Part II

Welcome back to our little trip across these great United States. We left off somewhere on Route 90, heading out of Cleveland.

So glad to have you following along, and frankly, if you’re following I’m just glad you’re not the cops. On the way to Chicago I found myself driving 70 miles an hour, which made the police quite angry, since the speed limit was 75. 

When ...

Sabotaged by the DMV

After living in Manhattan for the last few years, my grandson, Chris, and my wonderful grand-daughter-in-law, Silvia, have decided to move back to his hometown of Westfield, N.J. Silvia has just returned from a four-day visit with her parents in Hong Kong and they are bunking with my daughter, Lisa, while preparing their new home. Because they now have a daily commute to the city, I decided to ...

Do it badly!

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly, at least to start. 

As a recovering perfectionist, I have learned to get started on a project even if I don’t have all the pieces together. Sometimes just puttering, tinkering or moving the parts around will help me sort out my brain enough to give me an idea of how to tackle a project.  

I can’t tell you how many times ...

What Kind of Sports Parent Are You?

Social media recently showered a lot of likes and love on a high school pitcher in Minnesota whose team was playing in a regional final that would send the winning team to the state championship game.

After the last batter of the game struck out, the pitcher did something unheard of. Rather than spontaneously join his teammates in an on-field celebration, as is customary, the pitcher ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, June 21, 6:00 PM

Yorktown Heights

2018 Kickball Registration is Open! Meet, Greet ...


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Yorktown Heights




Tue, June 26, 1:00 PM

Yorktown Heights



Excited for Somers Block Party June 30

June 20, 2018

Hello Somers:

The Town is excited this year to partner with the Somers Lions Club, Somers Chamber of Commerce and Sebastian Capital to offer a new kind of Independence Day celebration, at a new location, starting a new tradition with the 2018 Somers Block Party on June 30.

The Block Party will take place at Sebastian Capital’s 1 Pepsi Way property (across from King Kone) with gates ...