Goshen residents will vote exclusively via absentee ballot on a proposed $76,083,837 proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year. Absentee ballots must be dropped off to the district clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, or received by mail through June 16 by the district in order for your vote to count. Please view the following common questions about the proposed budget and how to vote.
- What is behind the proposed budget increase?
- How will the budget affect my taxes?
- Does the proposed budget meet the district’s legal limit under the tax levy cap law?
- Are there any cuts to academic programs?
- Are there any cuts to personnel?
- What happens if the budget is defeated?
- Are we receiving state aid? What is the Pandemic Adjustment?
- Is there anything new included in the proposed budget?
- What else is on the ballot?
- How are capital projects affecting the proposed budget?
- Is the district receiving money from Legoland?
- Is there in-person voting this year?
- How do I get an absentee ballot?
- When are absentee ballots due?
- Is there in-person voter registration this year?
- How could STAR reduce my taxes?
- When is the public budget hearing?
- How can I submit a question about the proposed budget?
Q. What is behind the proposed budget increase?
There are a number of factors affecting the proposed budget. The district will see an increase in expenditures related to new debt service associated with the capital improvement project at Goshen High School, which added a 15,000 square foot addition, STEAM lab and new athletic complex, refurbished the auditorium, and also improved cabling/infrastructure district-wide.
In addition, costs associated with contractual agreements, such as pension rates and health insurance, also increased. Health insurance rates continue to rise mostly due to increased prescription costs. The district will see five retirements this year (that will not be filled in order to reduce costs); however, although there is a savings in salaries, the district will eventually fund two health insurance plans: one for the retiree and one for future hires.
It is important to note that the proposed budget contains approximately $1.9 million in reductions due to five unfilled retirements as well as the elimination of the 5 p.m. bus run. It is also important to note that in order to help balance the budget and avoid drastic cuts, the vast majority of Goshen Central School District employees have agreed to take a pay freeze. Additionally, the district will reduce costs by having an in-school academic program for students with disabilities at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School, which will save on tuition and transportation to outside programs.
Q. How will the budget affect my taxes?
The proposed tax levy increase of 3.52% percent is below the tax levy limit that is calculated for 2020-21 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.
Residents’ tax bills are determined by several factors that are out of the district’s control, including assessment levels and equalization rates, which are set by the New York State Office of Real Property Services.
While final tax rates cannot be determined until the summer when final assessments and equalization rates become available, the district estimates the following tax increases for the the towns that comprise the school district based on a $200,000 assessed market value:
- Chester: $146.65 annually or $2.82 per week
- Goshen: $146.65 annually or $2.82 per week
- Hamptonburgh: $151.75 annually or $2.92 per week
- Wallkill: $145.58 annually or $2.80 per week
- Wawayanda: $146.65 annually or $2.82 per week
Q. Does the proposed budget meet the district’s legal limit under the tax levy cap law?
Q. Are there any cuts to academic programs?
It is the goal of the Board of Education to present a budget proposal that meets the academic and social needs of our students. In order to help balance the budget, the district will eliminate the 5 p.m. evening bus run next year. There are no reductions to academic programs.
Q. Are there any cuts to personnel?
In order to help balance the budget, five positions being vacated due to retirements will not be filled, including two elementary school teachers, two clerical positions and one teacher aide. There are no additional reductions to faculty and staff.
Q. What happens if the budget is defeated?
Under New York state law, if the school budget is defeated, the board of education typically has two options: put the same or a modified budget up for another vote on the third Tuesday in June, or immediately adopt a contingent budget. If residents defeat the proposed budget during a second vote, the board must adopt a contingent budget.
However, given the delay in this year’s initial vote to June 9, the date in law for a revote of June 16 would not be possible. The district is seeking further guidance on what options may be available in the event that a revote is necessary.
For Goshen, a contingent budget will cut approximately $1,840,653 from the proposed budget. District officials have considered what would be eliminated next year if the budget was defeated. Although a definite decision has not been made, this may include:
- the elimination of five or more teacher positions,
- the elimination of two or more teacher positions vacated through retirements,
- reductions to 21st century learning hardware and software,
- reductions to athletics programs and extracurricular activities,
- and increased class sizes.
Additionally, under a contingent budget, the district would not be permitted to increase the tax levy in order to finance the capital improvement project, even though it was approved by voters. Reductions to the budget would be needed to fill that hole as well.
Q. Are we receiving state aid? What is the Pandemic Adjustment?
The adopted state budget keeps foundation aid – the primary source of general purpose operating aid for schools – flat for 2020-21.
In an effort to deal with the financial challenges brought on by COVID-19, the state budget includes a state aid reduction, the “Pandemic Adjustment,” that totals $1.1 billion statewide. Reminiscent of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) that resulted from the Great Recession a decade ago, each district’s aid is reduced by a Pandemic Adjustment figure. While the federal stimulus offers relief this year, it remains to be seen if and how this will be applied to state funding in future years.
School districts are also facing possible mid-year aid cuts based on (potentially decreasing) state revenue.
The enacted state budget provides for three time periods during the state’s fiscal year when the State Division of Budget will evaluate revenues against projections and potentially withhold or adjust aid to localities, including school districts. This possibility for mid-year aid cuts means that schools may receive even less state funding than it appears at this time.
Q. Is there anything new included in the proposed budget?
In order to better service its students, the proposed budget adds an in-school academic program for students with disabilities at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School. The program will provide students with a structured learning environment, uniformity with their classmates, and continuity as they progress to Goshen Intermediate School, which also has an in-school program. An added benefit is long term cost savings since students will not have to attend programs at alternate locations, reducing tuition and transportation costs for the district.
Q. What else is on the ballot?
In addition to the proposed budget, residents will vote on a proposition to authorize the purchase of eight school buses and elect two members to the Board of Education.
Purchase eight school buses
District residents will vote to authorize the purchase of eight school buses: four 66-passenger school buses, at a maximum estimated cost of $111,250 each; three 30-passenger school buses, at a maximum estimated cost of $55,333 each; and one wheelchair accessible bus, at a maximum estimated cost of $70,000; for an aggregate maximum cost of $680,999.
If approved, approximately 60 percent of the $680,999 proposition would be covered by state aid. The cost to local taxpayers would be bonded over five years, with the first payment due during the 2021-22 school year – the first year that the district will begin receiving state aid reimbursement. There will be no effect on the 2020-21 tax levy.
Elect two members to the Board of Education
District residents will elect two members to the Board of Education for three-year terms to fill the seats of Board members Thomas Mullane and Allison Salte, whose terms expire at the end of the school year.
The candidates who receive the most votes will be appointed to these positions. Their terms will commence on July 1, 2020 and will expire on June 30, 2023.
The candidates are (listed in alphabetical order):
Q. How are capital projects affecting the proposed budget?
Construction of the approximately $34.4 million capital improvement project at Goshen High School is nearly complete, boasting a new 15,000 square foot addition, security vestibule, nine classrooms, renovated auditorium, STEAM lab, artificial multi-use turf athletic field(s), improved infrastructure to support our increasing technology, and more. The proposed budget includes associated costs, such as utilities, maintenance, equipment, supplies, curriculum and professional development, as well as new debt payments.
Q. Is the district receiving money from Legoland?
Construction at Legoland was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing back its scheduled opening day of July 1, 2020. When the completed project is assessed (go up in value), its PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with the district will increase, and will then be applied to the local tax levy.
PILOTs are one of the main tools local Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) use to encourage businesses to locate in their jurisdictions. Under such an agreement, a company makes some fixed yearly contribution to a municipality or school system rather than pay property taxes. School officials and other local governmental officials have no role in negotiating the terms of PILOTs.
Q. Is there in-person voting this year?
No. In an executive order issued on Friday, May 1, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that this year’s school budget vote and board of education election will take place exclusively by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. All absentee ballots must be received by the district office by 5 p.m. June 9, 2020.
Q. How do I get an absentee ballot?
Absentee ballots and a postage paid return envelope were mailed to every qualified voter. To be a qualified voter, you must be a U.S. Citizen, at least 18 years old by June 9, 2020, a School District resident for 30 days immediately preceding the vote, and registered to vote in School District elections and having voted in any School District election/vote during the past four calendar years.
Q. When are absentee ballots due?
Please be sure to carefully follow the instructions on your absentee ballot. After marking your ballot, seal it in the provided paid return envelope addressed to the District Clerk of the Goshen Central School District. Ballots must be placed in a designated drop box at the District Office, 227 Main Street, no later than 5 p.m. June 9 or received by mail by June 16.
Q. Is there in-person voter registration this year?
No. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be no personal voter registration held at school district offices prior to the June 9, 2020 vote. If you are not registered, you can do so with the County Board of Elections by mail or remotely through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website: https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application
Q. How could STAR reduce my taxes?
New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, or STAR, 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, Basic and Enhanced, with different eligibility requirements. More information can be found at: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/eligibility.htm.
Q. When is the public budget hearing?
Following budget adoption, the district will make the proposed budget available to the public, hold a budget hearing (which will take place remotely), and mail a budget newsletter/required notice to all residents after the budget hearing. This procedure is no different than other years, except for the hearing being held remotely. You can view the budget hearing recording at www.gcsny.org/aboutus/budget.
Q. How can I submit a question about the proposed budget?
In order to better serve its residents, the district created a special email address so that the public can communicate with the members of the Board of Education. Community members are invited to use this email address to send questions and concerns prior to upcoming Board meetings.
If you would like to submit a question for discussion, please email the Board of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that in order for a question to be discussed/answered at a meeting, it needs to be submitted via email by 5 p.m. the Wednesday before a scheduled meeting.