Issuu on Google+ Vol. 13/Number 16 Board of Education elections may be unopposed By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER The fate of two seats on the Harrison Board of Education rest in the hands of local voters in next month’s school district elections as the board vice president and one trustee’s terms are set to expire. Harrison Central School District Purchasing Clerk Gene George explained that, as of press time, three people have declared an interest in running in the upcoming school district elections, two of whom are interested in the trustee seat. Unlike many other school district elections in the state, in which the top three vote-getters win the available seats, the Harrison school board elections are conducted annually on a seat-by-seat basis, with each candidate declaring for a seat held by a specific incumbent. Rachel Estroff looks to unseat incumbent Trustee Jason Schecter in this year’s Board of Education elections. Estroff is the only newcomer to announce an interest in running for the board, so far. Contributed photo For newcomer Rachel Estroff, the intent to run for the trustee seat currently occupied by incumbent Jason Schechter was sparked by her vested interest as a parent and a taxpayer. Apart from a Ph.D. in politics, Estroff is a mother of two Harrison elementary school students and has been actively involved in the public school district since 2009. She has also served as a representative with the district’s Parent-Teacher Council, Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee, and Elementary Enrichment Committee. “The Harrison Central School District and public education, in general, are at critical junctures,” Estroff said. “I am committed to the district, working hard and collaboratively with other board members and administration at strengthening ELECTIONS continued on page 14 West Street construction may lead to congestion By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Local travelers driving along West Street, at the Harrison-Mamaroneck border, will need to seek alternate routes due to an upcoming construction project. Town officials, however, were unable to provide any start date to the proposed roadwork. On April 4, the Harrison Town Council awarded the project to Bilotta Construction Corp. to realign a complex curve in the roadway and to install a new drainage pipe underground. Bilotta’s bid of $241,259 was the lowest of ten the village received. Town Engineer Michael Amodeo said the project will be funded through the department’s capital budget for 2012. “We had a bad situation out there,” Amodeo said. “Not only is there a complex curve in the road, but it’s compounded with a lack of drainage.” According to Amodeo, the town acquired an old parcel of property along West Street that enabled them to realign the street as well as grant the appropriate drainage easement. “Once we get into the main construction aspect, we should be done within a month,” Amodeo added. The drainage aspect of the project will require portions of a stone wall along West Street and Winfield Avenue to be removed and replaced in order to perform work on the existing underground pipeline, which must include inlet and erosion protection. Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said West Street will need to be closed off for a short period of time where it intersects with Union Avenue and Century Trail to accommodate the construction. “There will be a limited inconvenience for some drivers,” Belmont said, “But we hope to have it where only one lane is closed [at a time].” An added provision in the contract requires that West Street, as well as the adjacent Winfield Avenue, maintain at least one open lane during work hours. According to the contractor, while the exact start date of the project has yet to be determined, they have been told the town intends to begin the project as soon as possible. In addition to the project, Republican Councilman Steve Malfitano suggested the contractors provide an estimate of the cost necessary to repave a portion of the roadway, at the intersection with Century Trail. “Because of the repaving that had taken place in the past, there is a fairly decent drop-off in pavement elevation and grade level,” Malfitano said. “In some instances, it’s greater than a foot.” Councilman Malfitano said he discussed the idea with the town engineer, who also agreed it was something the town should examine further. With a recently approved increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funding provided by the state, the town could undergo additional repairs to local roads and highways. As approved in the 2013-2014 state budget, Harrison will receive a total of $172,453 from CHIPs, an increase of $38,000 from the last fiscal year. Whether or not the board intends to utilize these funds towards additional repaving remains unknown. April 19, 2013 Schools release $108M budget By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER The Harrison Central School District released its budget proposal, a $108 million plan that will once again meet the district’s goals as well as fall .81 percent below the state-mandated tax levy threshold and force no reductions in programming or class size. “The district has been working to pare down any potential savings in order to keep our programs,” said Harrison School Superintendent Louis Wool. “There are a host of moving parts…and we are just about extracting blood from a stone.” On April 10, the Harrison Board of Education clued the public in to the preliminary details of the budget‑the first financial numbers released this calendar year‑more than a week after hearing some criticism over transparency. But, while the district touted using every piece of data available to iron out the budget, district officials have yet to disclose the preliminary tax rate increase proposed by the $108 million plan. “We’re not going to mention that right now,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business, Bob Salerno. “Not until we get more information from the town assessor.” During the meeting on April 10, Salerno presented his overview of the upcoming budget cycle for the 2013-2014 school year. Showing a series of reductions totaling more than $855,000, the district estimates a $3.79 million spending increase from last year— a budget-to-budget increase of 3.6 percent. These reductions include decreases to the district’s certiorari and capital budget lines, loss of vacant positions through attrition, staffing adjustments, and decreases in social security, unemployment, contractual services, the cost of fuel and several other cuts for smaller budget items. According to Salerno, approximately $17.9 million, or 64 percent of the total budgetary increases, are due to state mandates that have upped the cost of teacher and state employee pensions as well as the cost of special education. The proposed budget anticipates that the district’s cost to the teacher retirement system will increase $2.2 million, while state employee pensions will increase $221,786 from the current budget. The district also budgeted for increases in special education costs of $565,452, $1 million in employee salaries and roughly $449,000 in health insurance. “[The district] also anticipates property assessments will increase [approximately] $150,000 between now and when we close the rolls,” Salerno said. Although the final assessment roll has not been adopted as of press time, the school district estimates the proposed budget will call for a tax levy increase of 3.47 percent. The state property tax levy cap requires that public school districts use a specific calculation to determine the allowable levy limit. According to the calculation, the Harrison school district can up the levy by as much as 4.28 percent in the upcoming school year. Proposing to levy approximately .81 percent less than the maximum allowable increase, the 2013-14 preliminary budget is $757,557 less than the amount of tax revenue the district could collect. BUDGET continued on page 6 Winner of a 2012 NYPA award for Feature Story

Harrison Report 4-19-13

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