Voters to Weigh-In on School Budgets by Absentee Ballot

All seven local school district budgets were approved by wide margins last week as voters made their voices heard through absentee ballots.

Each district experienced much higher voter participation than a year ago, with voting up as much as 500 percent in some districts.

Lakeland

Residents in the Lakeland School District, which featured the largest budget in the region at $164,797,022., came out in droves and approved the spending plan, 3,634-1,008. Last year, only 887 residents voted.

The 2020-21 package reduces spending by 5.7% ($10 million) from this year and projects a tax decrease for all six municipalities in the district, ranging from -3.7% in Somers to -0.2% in Cortlandt. District officials are using $5.56 million from fund balance to partially make up for a loss of an estimated $4.3 million in state aid and Westchester County sales tax revenue.

Also on the ballot was a $4.2 million bond to pay for the second phase of roof replacement at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, which was approved 3,487-1,008. The district will be reimbursed 62% of that cost from building aid.

Meanwhile, board Vice President Denise Kness and trustees Rachelle Nardelli and Donald Pinkowsky were reelected to new three-year terms running unopposed.

Hendrick Hudson

In the Hendrick Hudson School District, where the $82 million budget increases spending by 2.62% and includes an average districtwide hike of 5.96%, voters overwhelmingly gave a thumbs up by a count of 2,274-1,169.

Ninety percent of homeowners reside in Cortlandt and will see a tax increase of 5.25%. The small fraction that live in Peekskill will experience an 11.5% spike. Next year’s budget is the first where Hendrick Hudson will feel the effects of the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plants with a $3 million revenue reduction.

“This strong showing of support is validation of a job well done,” Superintendent of Schools Joseph Hochreiter said.

A new vehicles’ purchase proposition also passed 2,155-1,281. In the Board of Education race, which was uncontested, Cory Notrica was reelected while Alixandra Philbin joined for the first time, filling the seat of longtime trustee and retired teacher Barbara Pettersen, who called it a career.

Yorktown

The $100.26 million budget in Yorktown was approved 2,442-892. The estimated tax rate changes are 1.15% for Yorktown residents, 1.98% for Cortlandt residents and -3.33% for New Castle residents.

Board of Education members Michael Magnani (2,360) and Anthony D’Alessandro (2,163) were reelected to new three-year terms, fending off the challenge of Elizabeth Anderson Scully, who received 1,458 votes.

Peekskill

The $98.5 million budget in the Peekskill School District, which includes a tax hike of 1.95%, was approved 1,117-466. District officials are using $2,882,879 from fund balance to partially compensate for a loss of $5.9 million in state aid.

In the Board of Education contest, Branwen MacDonald (1,047) and Samuel North (1,011) were reelected to second terms. Eileen Sullivan finished third with 757 votes.

Ossining

The $137 million budget in the Ossining School District was approved 3,211-1,182. The district is using $4.5 million from fund balance and $256,333 from capital reserves.

Three incumbents, Lisa Rudley (3,362), Graig Galef (3,052) and Frank Schnecker (2,776), were returned to the Board of Education. Roger Battacharia finished out of the running with 1,979 votes.

Croton-Harmon

The $49.4 million budget in the Croton-Harmon School District, which increases taxes by 1.7%., was approved 1,687-487.

A bus proposition for the purchase of three vehicles, not to exceed $225,000, was approved 1,252-885, and $869,674 for the Croton Free Library was approved 1,712-419.

Winning the trustee race were Board of Education President Sarah Carrier, Trustee Neal Haber and newcomer Beth McFadden. Trustee Elizabeth Lyman did not seek reelection.

Somers

In the Somers School District, the $94.6 million budget, which raises taxes by 1.8%, passed with 74% approval. To balance the budget, $400,00 from the Reserve for Retirement Contributions and $300,000 from fund balance is being allocated. The district is dealing with a $1.4 million shortfall from the state and county.

Board President Dr. Lindsay Portnoy and Trustee MaryRose Joseph were reelected, running unopposed.

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