Annual Vote Q&A
Included are responses to some commonly asked questions regarding the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District budget and ballot propositions.
How will the budget affect property owners?
The $40,636,321 budget proposal calls for a 2% increase in the real property tax levy. Based on $100,000 assessed value and overall assessments and equalization rates from the 2021-2022 school year, residents can expect to see an average increase of $35.25 if they qualify for the STAR exemption, $15.90 if they qualify for enhanced STAR, or $49.52 with no STAR exemption. Keep in mind that the equalization rates and overall assessments across seven municipalities overlapping the District have yet to be released for 2022-2023.
What expenditures are increasing the most?
The District is part of the Finger Lakes Area School Health Plan (FLASHP) consortium and its rates for 2022-2023 are expected to increase by 21.9%. As a result, the District is projecting an increase of $837,409 in employee benefits/health care costs.
How has inflation impacted the budget?
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) between November 2020 and 2021 rose 6.8%, a rate of increase the nation hasn’t seen in nearly 40 years. On top of that, CPI rose another 1.2% as a result of the war in Ukraine and rising gas prices. The District has seen a steady increase in the cost of utilities, materials, supplies, and equipment during the 2021-2022 school year and has budgeted accordingly for 2022-2023.
How is the tax levy limit calculated?
State law mandates that an eight-step formula be used to calculate the District’s tax levy limit. This calculation accounts for growth in the local tax base, the rate of inflation, and provides the District with certain exemptions (capital expenditures, retirement contributions, court orders, and judgments). The District may also carry over the unused portion of the tax levy limit from the previous year. The District has $230,322 in carryover from 2021-2022, resulting in a tax levy limit for the upcoming school year of $15,485,323 for a 4.15% annual increase. For 2022-2023, the District is proposing a tax levy increase of 2%.
Has refinancing the District’s debt helped?
Based on the recommendation of Fiscal Advisors, the District was able to take advantage of low-interest rates in refinancing $9.34 million in serial bonds from prior capital construction projects. This is projected to save the District approximately $75,000 annually through 2030.
Why is the District paying for more buses?
The District works to ensure the safety of students and staff by using a 10-year rotation to purchase new buses and phase out aging models. To continue this schedule, the District will spend up to $684,804 out of its Bus Purchase Reserve Fund to purchase six buses, specifically two 30-passenger, two 65-passenger, and two 71-passenger buses. The state provides 90% aid reimbursement over five years on the purchase of buses. The net cost to the District after state aid will be $68,480 out of the reserve fund.
What happens if the budget isn’t approved? The District has two options if the budget is defeated. It can propose a new budget or the same budget for a re-vote in June. If that budget proposal is defeated, the District would be required to adopt a contingency budget. Since the District is proposing a 2% tax levy increase, there would be a change to the tax levy in the contingency budget, specifically a reduction of $297,352. In addition, there would be restrictions on purchasing non-contingent items and the District would be required to charge fees for all facility uses.
How are reserve funds being used in the proposed budget?
The District plans to use $599,575 from its reserves to balance the budget. This amount represents a $160,080 annual increase from the 2021-2022 budget. The District will allocate $574,575 from the Employees Retirement System Reserve and $15,000 from the Teachers Retirement System Reserve to offset any contributions to the retirement system, and $10,000 from the Unemployment Reserve for costs attributed to unemployment claims. The District will also use $550,000 from its Debt Service Fund to offset the local share of capital debt payments from previous capital projects.
Why is funding for the libraries on the ballot? The District holds the annual appropriations vote for the local libraries in conjunction with the District annual budget vote for efficiency purposes. The library funding has no impact on the school budget or school taxes. Taxes related to the library funding are levied separately from District taxes.