By KATIE HOOS
Rye Neck voters approved a $39.9 million, tax cap compliant school budget with 73 percent of the vote. The budget preserves all current programs and includes a net staffing increase of 1.4 new positions within the district.
Tuesday’s public vote passed the district’s 2014-2015 budget with a 4.54 percent spending increase over the 2013-2014 budget.
With 804 Rye Neck voters coming out, 586 voted in support of the budget, while 218 voted against it.
“We’re really appreciative of the support the community showed for the 2014-2015 fiscal plan,” Dr. Peter Mustich, superintendent of the Rye Neck School District, said. “The budget passed with over 72 percent of the vote, so that’s a nice pat on the back for our Board of Education.”
The budget carries a 3.12 percent tax levy increase, which is under the state mandated tax cap of 3.15 percent.
Rye Town taxpayers will see a 1.25 percent tax rate increase while Rye City taxpayers will see a 5.27 percent tax rate increase.
The district serves students from portions of Rye City and the Village of Mamaroneck since Rye Neck’s school district overlaps both municipalities.
The budget added 3.3 full-time equivalent, FTE, teaching positions, including a physical education teacher for Rye Neck middle and high schools and a resource teacher for F.E. Bellows Elementary School.
On the other side of the ledger, 1.9 FTE positions were cut, including part-time monitor positions at Daniel Warren Elementary School and a clerical position within district offices, leaving the district with a net staffing increase of 1.4 new positions.
While voters approved the tax cap compliant budget this year, some school officials believe the chances of passing a tax cap compliant budget as early as next year may be difficult.
“I worry about the future and what comes down the road,” Mustich said. “We’ve cut all that we can cut; all the fringes have been cut. It continues to be a struggle and I am concerned with what our possibilities are in terms of our options as we face the future.”
Along with passing the budget, incumbents Deborah Aulfinger and Rocco Germani were re-elected Tuesday night in an uncontested race to serve another term on the Rye Neck Board of Education.
Both Aulfinger and Germani were elected to the Board of Education in 2011, running unopposed after former board members Nancy Tucci and board president Heidi Sickles decided not to seek re-election.
Aulfinger, a 20-year Rye Neck resident, is a technology consultant and has dedicated her time on the board toward evaluating and improving district finances.
Germani, who was born and raised in Rye Neck, owns Germani Contracting, Inc. and works in Harrison as an assistant building inspector.
Both trustees will serve another three-year term.