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Scarsdale Gives School Budget Resounding Approval

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Scarsdale voters turned out Tuesday to support the 2012-2013 school budget, voting 573-152 – a 79 percent margin – to approve the document, the first compiled under the state's new so-called 2 percent tax levy cap.

District Clerk Lois Rehm said turnout was light for most of the day and blamed it partially on the rainy weather. Another factor, she said, was that the school district did a good job of educating the public about the budget.

“There was so much education about the tax levy cap,” she said. “I think people feel comfortable with the budget.”

Rehm said the last time Scarsdale rejected a budget was in the 1970s.

The new budget calls for $141,790,579 in spending, a 2.4 percent increase from the current budget. According to Scarsdale Schools Assistant Superintendent Linda Purvis, the budget means Scarsdale residents will see a 3.4 percent school tax rate increase. Mamaroneck residents included in the district will see a 2.2 percent hike.

The tax levy differs from the tax rate. The levy is how much money the district can raise in local taxes. The cap law starts at 2 percent, but makes allowances for some expenses, such as certain capital expenditures, increases in the state-mandated employer contribution rates for teacher and employee pension systems that exceed 2 percentage points, and court orders or judgments resulting from tort actions of any amount that exceeds 5 percent of a district's current levy. Because of this, Scarsdale's budget falls below the 2 percent cap even though its budget is 2.4 percent higher than last year's number.

Because Scarsdale complied with the cap, the budget required a simple majority to pass. Had the district exceeded its cap, the budget would have required a 60 percent vote of approval.

Board of Education incumbents Mary Beth Gose and Lewis Leone Jr. were unopposed for re-election. Leone received 591 votes, while Gose polled 589.

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