School Board Adopts Superintendent Byrne’s $110M Override Budget, 6.91% Spending Increase

The school board’s unanimous approval means that the district will look to pass an override budget for the first time in nearly a decade.

Published March 21, 2024 7:26 PM
3 min read

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The Rye City Board of Education voted this week to adopt the superintendent of schools’ proposed 2024-25 budget without changes, approving a plan that would surpass the state tax cap limit by more than $3 million. 

The school board and administration must now sell the budget to school district voters ahead of a May 21 vote. Unlike typical school budgets, which require majority approval, an override budget needs a 60 percent supermajority to pass. A public hearing on the adopted budget is scheduled for May 7. 

The school board’s unanimous approval means that the district will look to pass an override budget for the first time in nearly a decade. The $110.5 million spending plan – the intact budget recommended by Schools Supt. Dr. Eric Byrne in early February – would mean a 6.41 percent increase over the current year’s budget. That year-over-year increase marks the highest since 2015-16, the last time the district’s school budget was not cap-compliant.  

Board of Education president Jane Anderson told The Record that the board had a “full-throated review and conversation” in its deliberations, but because of the tax cap was unable to make any substantial changes to the document.  

“What we talked about is that when you look at the budget as presented in a tax-cap scenario, automatically with salaries and benefits … debt service and special education transportation, we’re already over the tax cap,” Anderson said on Wednesday. 

Salaries and benefits, debt service, and special education transportation account for $3.8 million in fixed expense increases over the current budget. That number alone puts the district over the allowable tax cap increase of $3.2 million for the 2024-25 budget. 

In overriding the cap, the adopted budget holds the line on all programs and services, updates curriculum, and doesn’t add any new faculty or staff, according to Byrne. 

“I think that’s a huge highlight,” said Byrne, who has led Rye City schools since 2017. “So, we’re really maintaining our programs, updating and bringing in new opportunities for our kids, and doing it in a fiscally responsible way.”  

New opportunities will include advanced courses in math and science for eighth graders; an Advanced Placement Capstone program offered to high school students; and the continued preparation for the district to launch an International Baccalaureate program in 2025.  
 
Anderson pointed to $1.7 million of capital expenditures – including upgrades to the high school’s athletic facilities, HVAC work, and continued security enhancements – in the adopted budget, which stem from a promise made to taxpayers following approval of the school district’s $80 million capital infrastructure bond in 2019. 

“It was clearly stated by the board and administration (in 2019) of an ongoing commitment to maintain and upgrade facilities, and the belief we should not be going back out to bond if we manage the budget properly,” she said. 

The tax levy in the adopted budget will increase by 6.91 percent over the current budget – to slightly more than $99 million, or $6.4 million more. The tax levy constitutes the amount needed to be raised by property taxes to pay for budget expenditures. 

To get under the 3.47 percent tax cap for 2024-25, the district would have needed to slash $3.1 million out of the budget.  

Peer school districts Scarsdale and Chappaqua have also overridden the cap. And Byrne expects the number of districts doing so will grow over the next month.  

The New York state tax cap was signed into law in 2011, establishing a limit on the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.  

“We managed to get to nine (years) with this budget proposal,” Byrne said. It “puts us in a great fiscal position for a number of years moving forward.” 

The estimated tax rate per $1,000 of assessment is $745.1947, which was determined by the city. assessor. The school district told The Record that it’s awaiting the projected tax rate increase from the city. 

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