Westbury Budget Features Tax Levy Decrease

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Budget, trustee vote set for May 18

Pless Dickerson, left, listens as board President Robert Troiano makes a statement at a June 2019 board of education meeting. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Westbury voters will be going to the polls on May 18 to vote on a budget that. for the first time in memory reduces the tax levy (the amount to be raised by property taxes) by .5 percent.

Though the proposed 2021-22 budget saw a 7.46 percent increase from the 2020-21 spending plan, an injection of additional state aid enabled the district to lower the levy in its $168,777,798 budget. Voting on the budget will be Proposition 1 on the ballot.

Thanks to a 20 percent increase in foundation aid from the state, to about $45.286 million, the proposed reduction in 2021-22 tax rate is .5 percent. According to the district’s budget newsletter, “The Board of Education is committed to continuing annual reductions in the tax levy as increasing levels of financial aid are received. As the state does its part, we will do our part.”

Michelle Wilson is running unopposed for another term on the Westbury School District Board of Education. (Contributed photo)

The newsletter continues, “A portion of the increase in foundation aid will be combined with other funding sources to make infrastructure improvements… [which] include ventilation projects at all six of our schools to increase the flow of air to protect our students and staff from the transmission of airborne viruses such as COVID-19. Plans are still being developed to best utilize the increased funding for instructional enhancements. Investments in state-of-the art technology are likely to be a significant component of the plan as is purchase of a new reading program. Summer and after-school enrichment programs are also expected to be offered to offset any losses in academic achievement resulting from the closure of schools during the pandemic.”

A second proposition on the ballot asks voters to authorize the district to spend $1.4 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for upgrades and renovations at several schools. Residents had previously voted to set aside these moneys, which will not effect property taxes. Per the newsletter, these include:

• Installing a generator at the high school that will enable school to continue in the event of a power outage as well as providing shelter for residents, if necessary, during an emergency

• Upgrading air filtration systems to protect against the transmission of airborne viruses

• Renovating 60-year-old auditoriums at Park and Drexel Avenue schools to make them future-ready

• Making improvements to athletic fields to reduce maintenance costs and generate event rental fees

• Initiating a study to assess the feasibility of establishing an Early Childhood Center

Two Westbury Board of Education trustees are running unopposed for another term: Pless Dickerson and Michelle Wilson. A story in the May 19 edition of the Westbury Times had Robin Bolling running. We apologize for the error.

Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Westbury Middle School, Drexel Avenue Elementary School, Dryden Street Elementary School and Park Avenue Elementary School.

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