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Proposed budget preserves program, staff; increases security, student support

Banner that says vote may 15, 6 am  to 9 pm in the new gym lobbyThe Schalmont Board of Education on April 9 adopted a proposed $48,636,823 budget for the 2018-19 school year, with a proposed tax levy increase of 2.6 percent, which is at the tax levy limit that
is calculated for 2018-19 through a prescribed state formula. Because the budget does not exceed the state tax levy limit, it requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote to pass.

Also, the budget does not exceed the state tax levy limit, Schalmont residents would still be eligible for the property tax relief rebate.

Click here to view the full presentation from the April 9 meeting [PDF].

Q: What is the public voting on May 15?

A: The public will vote on four items:

• The proposed $48,636,823 2018-19 school budget (requires simple majority, 50%+1)
Because it is within the cap, taxpayers are still eligible for their rebate.

• Proposition to purchase 3 Full Size (66 Passenger) Buses and 1 Wheelchair Bus (24 Passenger). Estimated cost for 4 vehicles is $420,000 (Local Share of $170,100 after
$249,900 in State Aid). This is the continuation of a long-range transportation plan to keep our fleet safe and up to date.

Two referenda that have NO COST to taxpayers.

• Voter approval is needed to change the transportation facility project from repairing the old facility to constructing a new one. The district is able to do this by using the $3.4 million already approved by voters in 2016 and dedicating $840,000 to the project at its outset. The remaining cost will be funded through state aid.

• The second referendum would be to establish a capital reserve fund to defray the cost of the project in future years. This will help when we have another building condition survey completed on our facilities in 2020.

Q: When and where is the vote?

A: Polls open 6 a.m.–9 p.m. at the Schalmont High School New Gym Lobby.

Q: Who can vote?

A: You can! You do not need to pre-register!
You are entitled to vote if you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older, and have been a district resident for at least 30 days prior to the vote. Personal identification/proof of residency is required (e.g. driver’s license with current address, utility bill showing name and current address).

Q: How would the proposed budget affect my taxes? Is it within the cap?

A: The proposed tax levy increase of 2.6 percent is at the tax levy limit that is calculated for 2018-19 through a prescribed state formula. As a result, the budget requires the support of a simple majority (50 percent + 1) of voters to be approved.

Q: What is a capital reserve fund?

A: A capital reserve fund allows the district to set aside money for future construction projects and major purchases, much like a savings account. The fund cannot be established without voter approval, and reserve funds cannot be spent without voter approval. Because capital assets have a predetermined useful life expectancy, a reserve fund reduces the need to borrow funds, yet still maximize state aid, to replace those assets in the future.

Q: What is the difference between the tax levy and tax rate?

A: The tax levy is the total amount of money a school district raises in taxes each year from all property owners in the district.
Tax rates are calculated by dividing the total amount of the levy by the total taxable assessed value in a community. Tax rates are affected by changes in both municipal assessments and state equalization rates, which are determined in the summer. The tax rate is used to calculate each individual property tax bill.

Q: What is the tax levy limit, or tax cap?

A: The tax levy limit is the highest allowable tax levy (before exemptions) that a school district can propose as part of its annual budget for which a simple majority of voters (50 percent + 1) would be required. Any proposed tax levy amount above this limit would require budget approval by a supermajority (60 percent or more) of voters. The tax levy limit sets a threshold requiring districts to obtain a higher level of community support for a proposed tax levy above a certain amount.

Q: What happens if the budget is defeated?

A: Under New York state law, if the school budget is defeated, the board of education can either put the same or a modified budget up for another vote, or immediately adopt a contingent budget. If residents defeat the proposed budget during a second vote, the board must adopt a contingent budget.

Q: What is a contingent budget?

A: State law mandates that under a contingent budget a school district must adopt a budget with no tax levy increase and eliminate all non-contingent expenses such as certain student supplies, certain equipment purchases and the free community use of school facilities (the district must charge a fee). The administrative budget would also be subject to certain restrictions.

Q: What would be cut under a contingent budget for 2018-19?

A: If Schalmont adopts a contingent budget for 2018-19, the district must adopt a 0 percent tax levy increase and would have to make significant cuts to school programs, staffing and equipment.

Q: Are absentee ballots available for school budget votes?

A: Yes, absentee ballots will be issued, upon request, to school district residents who will be out of the area or unable to vote in person due to illness or disability. To vote by absentee ballot, you must fill out an application. If you want a ballot mailed to you, the district must receive your application by May 8. If you plan to pick up your ballot, the district must receive your application by May 14. Completed absentee ballots must be received by May 15, 5 p.m.

Q: What is a “fund balance� and how does it help offset the amount of my school taxes?

A: A fund balance is created when a district receives more revenue than expected and/or spends less than the amount budgeted. As part of the 2018-19 budget, Schalmont plans to allocate $1.26 million from its fund balance to lower the total tax levy and reduce the tax impact on district residents in the coming year.

Q: How could STAR reduce my school taxes?

A: STAR is New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, which provides partial school property tax savings to eligible homeowners. Most New Yorkers who own and live in their homes are eligible for STAR savings on their primary residences. There are two STAR programs with different eligibility requirements:
• The Basic STAR exemption is available to homeowners with incomes below $500,000.
• The Enhanced STAR exemption is available to senior citizens (age 65 and older) with yearly household incomes not exceeding $86,000. Income eligibility for 2018 is calculated using information from the 2016 tax year.
More information can be found here: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/eligibility.htm

Q: What are BOCES services and BOCES aid?

A: Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES, provide shared services to school districts as a way to pool resources and share costs. Sharing allows districts to provide programs and services that they might not be able to afford otherwise. A district using BOCES services for the current school year is reimbursed a portion of the cost of the services in the following school year by New York state. The amount returned to each district varies by services and is based on a formula that takes into account the district’s financial resources.

Q: Why do salaries and benefits comprise so much of the budget?

A: It takes many people to create and maintain a safe and productive learning environment for nearly 1,800 children in three schools. Employees teach, transport, coach and care for the community’s children. They clean buildings, mow playing fields, order supplies and make decisions so that schools run effectively and efficiently. The district has nearly 350 employees, including many part-time employees. Every year, approximately 73 percent of the district’s budget goes to pay salaries and benefits.

Next Steps

 May 7

Board of Education Meeting -MS LGI
• Meet the Candidates Night at 6 p.m.
• Budget Hearing at 7 p.m.

May 15, 6 am to 9 pm

Budget Vote & Board of Education Election Schalmont High School New Gym Lobby