Edgemont voters today are being asked to approve a school district budget that calls for an overall increase in school taxes next year of 2.74% — but which is well under the tax cap mandated by the State of New York.
The ballot calls for voters to approve or reject spending next year of $55,912,470, of which $48,841,042 will be covered by the tax levy. That figure represents a budget-to-budget increase of 3.34%.
Edgemont is also being asked to elect three new members to the Board of Education. The three candidates, each of whom was vetted and approved by the ECC’s School Board Nominating Committee are Ken Orce, Alec Clarke, and Judy Seiff.
Edgemont’s school taxes represent about 58% of an Edgemont resident’s total property tax bill – and the school budget is the only government budget that residents get to vote on. Polls are open until 9 p.m. tonight at the Edgemont Junior Senior High School gymnasium.
As in past years, elementary school children will be entitled to cast ballots of their own, beginning after 3 p.m., while older children will be performing music and displaying works of arts throughout the afternoon and evening.
Votes are counted in the gym shortly after 9 p.m. when the polls officially close and the results are then made public.
The reason Edgemont’s increase of 2.74% falls below the state-mandated tax cap this year is that much of the increase in spending is to cover borrowing costs associated with various capital projects that were approved by voters as part of a $12.8 million bond referendum approved in 2014. Such borrowing costs are excluded from the tax cap calculation.
If today’s budget is approved, the school tax rate would rise from $687.67 per thousand dollars of assessed value to $706.49 per thousand dollars of assessed value, in each case using the pre-reassessment tax roll in Greenburgh for the year 2015.
Greenburgh’s reassessment, which takes effect next year, will not affect the overall tax levy — the School District will still be entitled to raise the same amount of money it requires if the budget today passes — but the amount individual property owners pay may differ depending on whether their property assessments increased or decreased.
A substantial number of Edgemont residents were notified their property assessments increased by as much as 50% or more, and the Town refused to adopt any state-mandated mitigation measures that would have lessened the pain of the tax increases associated with such dramatic spikes in property assessments. Some of these residents may be facing property tax hikes next year of $10,000 or more as a result of reassessment and the Town’s refusal to lessen the impact.
Utilizing the new assessment numbers, which go into effect next year, Edgemont’s effective school tax rate would increase from $17.63 per thousand dollars of assesssed value to $18.08 per thousand dollars of assessed value. These numbers are based on properties assessed at what Greenburgh says is 100% of market value.
Edgemont voters are urged to come to the polls because, while Edgemont’s budget has in recent years been approved by overwhelmingly lopsided margins, there is always the fear that residents will stay home – – confident that the budget will pass without them.
However, Edgemont budgets have been known to fail — and while no one is aware of any campaign this year to defeat the budget — there is a uncertainty given the huge tax hikes that many Edgemont residents may face next year not because of anything the school district has done — but rather because of reassessment and the Town’s refusal to enact any of the state-mandated mitigation measures.