Included are responses to some commonly asked questions regarding the 2019-2020 Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District budget and propositions on the ballot.
Question: How will the proposed school district budget affect property owners?
Answer: The $36,295,087 budget proposal calls for a 2% increase in the true-value tax rate. A homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 with the Basic STAR exemption would pay an additional $32.96 annually. The same property owner with the Enhanced STAR exemption would pay an additional $14.74 annually based on 2018-2019 assessed values.
Q. How is the tax levy limit for the school district calculated?
A. State law mandates that an eight-step formula must 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 previous years. However, it can be no greater than 1.5% of the prior year’s tax levy limit. The school district has $216,885 in carryover from 2018-2019, resulting in a tax levy limit for the upcoming school year of $14,799,938 for a 4.33% annual increase. For 2019-2020, the district is proposing an increase of 2% or less than half the legally allowed tax cap limit of 4.33%.
Q. How are reserve funds being used in the proposed budget?
A. The district plans to use an additional $85,000 from its reserves to balance the budget. This amount represents a 26% annual increase over the 2018-2019 budget. The district will allocate $35,000 from the Employees Retirement System Reserve, an allowance to offset the district’s actual state pension payments for non-instructional employees belonging to the New York State Employees Retirement System. The district is increasing the use of the Debt Service Reserve by $50,000 for a total of $225,000.
Q. Why does the district need school buses and how are they paid for?
A. The district works to ensure the safety of students and staff by using a ten-year rotation to purchase new buses as it phases out aging models. Two new 65-passenger buses would replace older models and a new 19-passenger bus would be added to the fleet to transport Midlakes students requiring longer distances of travel. The district will spend $304,339 out of its Bus Purchase Reserve Fund to purchase three buses without any impact to taxpayers. The state provides 90% aid reimbursement over five years for the purchase of buses. The net cost to the district after state aid will be $30,434 out of the reserve fund. The district is asking voters to approve the creation of a new reserve fund for bus purchases as an older reserve fund is nearly depleted.
Q. How is the school district addressing capital improvements to school facilities?
A. The budget proposal includes debt payments on previous capital projects but does not include any new capital projects. However, the district is in the very early stages of a facilities planning process that would allow for the general maintenance, safety, and advancement of operations, programs and student opportunities over the next 10-12 years. Any projects identified by this process will be voted on by the community separately from the budget and will be funded through a combination of state aid, capital reserves, and local contributions (if necessary). More information regarding the facilities planning will be shared with the community in the coming months.