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Proposed Amity FY 22-23 Budget Would Significantly Impact Taxes

Proposed Amity FY 22-23 Budget Would Significantly Impact Taxes

Orange BOF Supports up to 0.41% Increase, Ultimately Taxpayers Will Decide on Budget to Support

by Jim Leahy, Vice-Chairman, Orange Board of Finance

On January 24, the Orange Board of Finance (OBOF) met with Amity Administration to review the proposed Amity budget for FY 22-23.  I encourage you to view this meeting at https://youtu.be/h-n_iW7zlvU.

OBOF Supports Up To a 0.41% INCREASE in AMITY BUDGET for FY 22-23

As explained in a prior article (01-14-22, Orange Town News), Amity’s current budget (FY 21-22) contains an 8.2% increase from Actual-to-Budget.  Moreover, in the last 4 years Amity surplus dollar amount was over FOUR TIMES the budget increase dollar amount.  This fact means that in each year the Amity school system performed its work and did so without a need of ANY INCREASE in each of those years.  And not only that, it still would have had a significant surplus

Kevin Moffett, long-time OBOF member, put it this way, “Budgeting should be based on ACTUALS because – as seen by the Amity surpluses – the prior year’s budget is inflated to begin with.”

OBOF ACTION:  At the January 24th meeting, the Orange Board of Finance (OBOF) unanimously approved a motion to support an Amity FY 22-23 budget of up to $51,910,170, an increase of $211,963, a 0.41% increase.  This vote came after an in-depth review & discussion of the budget details of the Proposed Amity Budget for FY 22-23, a 2-hour dialogue with Amity leadership, and a thorough & systemic review of both current & historical Amity data & information.

Amity Proposed Budget For FY 22-23

Below is a highlight summary of that budget:

  • Overall, 68 fewer students down to 2,164 lowest in 20 years, 11 fewer students from Orange;
  • Orange share of Amity students goes UP from 49.97% to 50.36%;
  • Proposed adding 7.2 staff positions;
  • Proposed spending increase of $2,544,901 to $54,243,108, a 4.92% spending increase;
  • Only 15% of this increase goes to the schools ($389,445); 85% goes to Pupil Services and Central Administration ($2,155,456);
  • Proposed increase is more than DOUBLE the 2.35% average increase for the past 16 years;
  • One year Impact to Orange taxpayers is an increase of $1,581,917, a 6.27% increase;
  • For FY 23-24, Amity is forecasting ANOTHER significant “Budget-to-Budget” increase of 4.49%;
  • Four-year budget forecast increase to Orange taxpayers is $3,835,681.
  • In summary, the 4-Year View:
    • Decrease of 118 students to 2,124;
    • Staff UP by 16 in last 4 years, compared to ZERO increase for the prior 10-year period;
    • Cost per student has jumped from $22,100 to $25,538, an 16% increase;
    • Surpluses have totaled $11.9 million, an average of $2,983,989 PER YEAR.

Amity Surpluses Are Raising Your Taxes

In the last 4 years, Amity has a TOTAL aggregate surplus of $11.9 MILLION averaging $2.983,979 per year.  Since Orange pays 50% of Amity, that means Orange taxpayers have spent ~ $1,500,000 in TAXES in each of the LAST 4 YEARS for what ended up being a SURPLUS.  These amounts are an UNNECESSARY burden to every taxpayer of Orange, Bethany, and Woodbridge.

Kevin Houlihan, Chairman of the Orange Board of Finance, expressed a growing concern, “The continual overbudgeting at Amity filters down to our Town Departments and the Orange Board of Education. in essence, Amity is taking money – that only results in surplus – that could be deployed elsewhere.”

[For a more detailed view about Amity surpluses & impacts, see articles “Amity Budgets, Surpluses, & the Impact on Taxpayers:  Avoid Unnecessary Tax Increases; End Inflated Budgets” Orange Town News, 01-14-22; and “Amity Overbudgeting Significantly Increases Taxes:  Surpluses Reflect Overcharging” Orange Town News, 02-12-21.]

What Does A 6.27% Increase Mean to Taxpayers

Thought Experiment:  Consider the impact on Orange Taxpayers:  What if all Town departments and the Orange Board of Education followed the lead of Amity & presented budgets similar to what Amity has proposed for FY 22-23?  How would that impact YOU, the TAXPAYER?  What if all budgets had a 6.27% impact?  The tax increases required to meet these budget requests would be unacceptable.  But that’s exactly what Amity has proposed.  See chart below. 

Personal Perspective

To avoid unwarranted tax increases, the Orange Board of Finance works with the First Selectman and Orange Board of Education & do everything in our power to accurately fund the Town services of our community without budget requests that are well beyond our actual needs.  Unfortunately, the Amity Regional School district & Board of Education narrowly view their scope of work and seem to show little concern for taxpayers.

Moreover, if you add this increase ($2,544,901) to the average Amity budget surplus of $2,983,979 million over the past 4 years, the budget request swells to greater than $5.5 million over actual FY 21-22 expenditures, a 10.7% increase!

As a result of our own detailed analysis, the Orange Board of Finance has proposed an increase of 0.41% for the Amity Regional Schools.  This level of increase ensures the continuation of excellent education while protecting taxpayers from excessive tax increases.

“The most important thing is that Amity has averaged almost a $3 Million surplus in each of the last 4 years – that is the key to our 0.41% increase,” stated OBOF Chairman Kevin Houlihan.  “Taxpayers need to know we are not gutting them.  We are expecting Amity to budget for what they need and not continually over budget.”

As always it is up to you, the taxpayer, to judge if the Amity budget request best serves the people of the district.  You get to vote on that question on May 3.

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