Vote May 2 – Amity Budget Referendum
Facts to Consider regarding the Amity Budget Request
One of the requirements of being a member of the Orange Board of Finance (OBOF) is to inform the public. In fact, I consider this an obligation of this elected position. What we are talking about is the spending of millions of dollars of hard-earned money of the people who reside in the Town.
Amity Budget Surplus Remains Unreasonable
Residents of the Member Towns are now fully aware that Amity continues to run unreasonable surpluses. This current year is no exception. Eight months into the operating year, February 2023 data, the stated surplus is $1,379,237. To that we must add $111,758 re-allocated this month to OPEB expense (Other Postemployment Benefits). Not only was this $111,758 not in the budget that was passed but it was a “cut” made after voters rejected initial budget requests last spring. Now it’s back. Fully funded once again.
Then, you add to the surplus the historically over-budgeted Medical & Dental account, now projected to underrun by $400,000. The Bottom-Line: another fiscal year where the surplus is now expected to be approximately $2,000,000. And it could be higher.
The ABOE voted to approve a 2.25% budget increase which would increase spending $1,200,000. Therefore, combining the $2,000,000 surplus within the current FY 22-23 budget with the $1,200,000 increase for FY 23-24 budget means that Amity is requesting taxpayers from the Three Members Towns to support an Amity budget that has a $3,200,000 increase in spending.
In summary, the request to support a 2.25% budget asks taxpayers in the Three Member Towns to support $3,200,000 in spending which represents a 5.99% spending increase from one year to the next.
Amity No Longer Returns All Surplus Money to the Member Towns
More importantly, there has been a shift in policy at Amity regarding these Surpluses. In the past, Amity returned ~ 80% of the surplus money to the Member Towns. So, while there was a major concern over budgeting that produced large surpluses, taxpayers realized that surplus money would be returned to the Towns for other uses such as roads or K-6 needs. Now, ALL surplus money is being retained at Amity and not being directly returned to the Towns.
The Orange Board of Finance UNANIMOUSLY – both Democrats, Independents, & Republicans -- supported up to a 0.46% increase for Amity’s FY 23-24 budget, noting that a more modest increase, or in fact a ZERO increase, would not hurt Amity at all. As seen in the comparison in the graphic, the OBOF position has been FAR more accurate – compared to Actual Spending -- than ABOE approved budgets. Moreover, even the OBOF’s positions have been far HIGHER than the ACTUAL SPEND needed at Amity in each of the past 4 years.
The Amity Board of Education REJECTED the Orange BOF position opting for a 2.25% hike which would result in a taxpayer-funded spending increase of $3.2 million.
YOUR VOTE ON MAY 2 COUNTS. Mark your calendar:
- With a YES vote: You Approve of the way Budgeting is being managed at Amity.
- With a NO vote: You Disapprove of the way Budgeting is being managed at Amity.
If the Amity budget is rejected, the budget would go back to Amity to be reduced. After that, there would be a new vote on a revised budget. Amity would continue to be fully funded at the prior Fiscal Year rate until a new budget is passed.
<span class="fineprint">This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Orange Town News.</span>