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Recca Supports Pelham's 2012-2013 School Budget

This is the first in a series of four articles on the Pelham Board of Education candidate’s thoughts about the 2012-2013 school budget.

PELHAM, N.Y. – Pelham Board of Education candidate and lifelong Pelham resident Michael Recca says he supports the 2012-2013 budget and thinks that it is reasonable, especially because “78 percent of our costs in personnel and benefits are somewhat out of our control.”

“We have a contract that we’ve negotiated with our bargaining unit,” said Recca. “Cuomo passed the property tax cap last year and with that, we didn’t get any real mandate relief. We’re not exempt from the contracts that we were beholden to. It’s very difficult to get the union to renegotiate a contract with one year left on it and I understand exactly where they’re coming from.”

He feels that once the current contract expires, “the teachers and all the bargaining units” will understand “the realities of the cap and what we’re able to do.” Only then can the Pelham board of education “begin to move towards long-term fiscal stability,” he said.

Board members unanimously adopted the $65,560,607 budget at a meeting Monday in Pelham Memorial High School’s newly dedicated Alumni Hall . During that meeting, they reduced the tax levy increase from 2.88 percent to 2.6 percent through the use of an additional $150,000 from the Employees’ Retirement System pension reserves, bringing the total to $650,000.

Recca supported both the decision and the debate that led up to it, stating that “it was very wise, the board use of those reserves.”

“I think that’s what they had to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, these expenses are mandated future liabilities that we have no control over and we have to guess to what the number will be. We are at historic highs for the pension contributions and I do believe that they will be coming down.”

He said he believes the budget line-by-line overview is important in addition to the public meetings, but is also willing to try different things in order to get the best possible budget.

“Nobody has all the answers and if we can come together and get the right answers, the best answers and the best solutions for the kids and for the community, that’s what’s most important,” he said.

Board of Education elections will take place on May 15 in addition to the vote on the 2012-2013 school year budget. Four candidates are running for two seats. Board President Robert Eicher and Doug Hearle are not seeking reelection. Recca, Paul Prencis , Christine Rosskopf and Madeline Smith are all seeking their first election to the board.

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