Dear School Community Member:
I hope this update finds you in the best of health and spirit as we finally welcome spring! The 2017-18 budget planning season is underway as we head to the May 16th budget vote, building project vote and board member election.
Since January, the Board of Education and the Central Administration have been working on a budget that balances what school children need with what taxpayers can afford. The main objective was to create a minimal impact on the tax levy while staying under the allowable tax cap.
The Board of Education, on April 18th, 2017, adopted a budget of $43,123,663. This is the budget number that the public will get to vote on this coming May 16th. This budget is a 2.44% ($1,026,297) increase from the 2016-17 budget.
The tax levy that goes along with the budget number outlined above is a 1.99% ($377,902) increase over the previous tax levy. To get to this number the Board is applying $1,687,128 from the general fund towards the tax levy to keep it low enough to support an increase of 1.99%. A small state aid increase of $466,151 in the newly approved State Budget helped us moderate the tax levy increase.
BUILDING PROJECT BACKGROUND/UPDATE
This update highlights the many needs within our facilities related to the health, safety and welfare, of students, staff and the community members who use our schools throughout the year.
In 2014, The District undertook a building project that effectively created an energy envelope around our elementary school to save on heating costs while ensuring even temperatures throughout the winter months. We replaced windows and flooring, renovated bathrooms, upgraded the fire alarm system at the junior-senior high school, installed emergency generators at both buildings, replaced the tennis court, upgraded our locker rooms at the junior-senior high school and we began to repair and renovate the swimming pool (more on this below).
In this new building project we are proposing to address some issues that have long been placed on the back burner. At the junior-senior high school and the elementary school there will be security upgrades which will include long awaited entrance vestibules so that parents and community members don’t have to wait outside in inclement weather.
There will be bathroom renovations and exterior site improvements including the outdoor track and the practice fields. The HVAC upgrades will continue our quest to improve student comfort within our classrooms, as well as to improve the thermal efficiency by replacing boilers at the elementary school and converting the remaining portion of the junior-senior high school from steam to water based heating.
A hot water heating system is anticipated to be up to 10% more efficient than the existing steam system. This will represent a savings of up to 25% in lower operating expenses in maintenance and reduce fuel costs. The new system will have better system control resulting in more comfortable temperatures in our classrooms, in addition to being more reliable.
At the junior-senior high school the gymnasium floor, bleachers, and windows will be replaced. These improvements will provide our gym long overdue updates after decades of long, hard but enjoyable and successful use. The new wood floor will eliminate dead spots that impact our competitions, provide the proper and safe resiliency for our students during play, and reduce the escalating cost of maintenance due to the age and obsolescence of the existing floor.
The new bleachers will provide accessible seating for our parents and community members, with proper aisle ways for safe access and again, reduced maintenance. These bleachers will also highlight our school colors with a more durable molded plastic seating material. The windows on the two gymnasium court ends will be replaced to eliminate the infiltration of water, in addition to providing better glare control during athletic events and increased thermal efficiency.
The pool upgrade is one of the centerpieces of this capital project. During a previous building project it was discovered that the pool was in need of much greater repair than was previously anticipated. As a result the pool could not be completed because the cost of repairs and replacements were so much greater than what was budgeted for at that time.
This pool renovation will include the replacement of a new tiled deck, a new pool liner and plumbing upgrades which will keep the pool functioning highly for decades to come. The pool area will be ADA compliant with lifts connected to the recently renovated pool locker rooms as well as a lift to take disabled swimmers in and out of the pool.
As you may be aware, our school district has one of the only indoor swimming facilities in Sullivan County. Historically, this pool has been used to teach our children swimming and water safety as well as to provide exercise for senior citizens and community members. Additionally, the pool has been used to train and certify the lifeguards that our county depends on. Unfortunately our pool facility has been closed for more than three years and these services are very much missed.
The proposed project will cost $15.9 million dollars. We are anticipating that we will receive New York State building aid at a minimum of 73.9%. This means that we would get about 74 cents back on each dollar spent on the building project.
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is what will the cost of this project be for the average taxpayer?
If you are a senior citizen who gets a STAR exemption, and the full value of your home is less than $80,000, there will be no additional cost to you.
If you are a senior citizen with a STAR exemption and the full value of your home is $100,000, the increase will be $23.00 a year or $1.92 month.
If you are a senior with STAR and the full value of your home is $160,000, the increase will be $66.00 a year or $5.00 a month.
If you have a STAR exemption only and the full value of your home is $100,000, the increase will be $43.00 per year or $3.58 a month.
If you have no STAR exemption and the full value of your home is $100,000, the increase will be $62.00 per year or $5.17 a month.
As you can see the 74% state aid that we are getting back makes a big difference in the bottom line relative to the cost to taxpayers. Because we are receiving such high aid back from the State, the $15.9 million dollar project will ultimately cost taxpayers about $8.5 million dollars (which is the net local share of $5.6 million plus the total interest less total state aid over the life of the loan).
If we plan to be able to continue to use of these facilities for another 60 plus years, we need to maintain them and care for them in terms of maintenance and timely repairs and replacements. This will not only insure the enjoyable use of the facilities, but will also make sure that the health, safety and welfare of the people who use our facilities remains the number one priority.
If you have any questions about the project that the District is proposing or you would like additional details, please don’t hesitate to call me at 845-434-6800 extension 1215 or email me at [email protected].
The budget vote, building project vote and board elections take place on May 16th, 2017 in the junior-senior high school library. Please come out and vote!
Ivan J. Katz, Ed. D.