BUDGET NEWS: BOE adopts proposed budget with 0% tax levy increase

The annual budget vote will be held from 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in the Board of Education Room at the Main Street Administration Building, 227 Main Street. More information about the proposed budget will be detailed in a district-wide mailing in early May and shared via the district website.

At the Board of Education meeting on April 19, the members of the Board of Education adopted an $83,700,000 proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year.

If approved, the proposed plan will result in a 0% tax levy increase in the coming year – for the second consecutive year. Because the tax levy increase remains below the district’s legal limit of 1.3% as defined by New York’s tax levy cap legislation, a simple majority of voters (50% + 1) is needed to pass the budget.

The proposed budget calls for a $4,888,624 increase in spending over the current year’s budget; however, the spending increase is mitigated by a significant increase in state aid – approximately 19%, largely due to the state’s promise to fully fund Foundation Aid –  as well as an additional $350,000 in appropriate fund balance to help balance the budget for next year. This allows the district to maintain all existing staffing, programs and services, as well as mitigate the costs of rising expenses facing all school districts, including employee salaries and benefits, pension contributions and overall inflation — which is at its highest level since 1991, according to the state budget director Robert Mujica.

What’s new in the budget?

If approved, the spending plan will add three support staff positions and one administrative position, increase the hours of one existing faculty position and three support staff positions,  purchase eight transportation vehicles and one facilities vehicle.

The new positions include:

  • One full-time school counselor at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School
  • One student supervisor for security/supervision, split between C. J. Hooker Middle School and Goshen High School at 5.75 hours/day
  • One full-time custodial worker
  • One full-time assistant principal at Goshen High School (10 month employee)

The position increases include:

  • Increase the music teacher position at Goshen Intermediate School from 0.8 FTE to 1.0 FTE
  • Increase the clerical support position in the business office from 0.75 FTE to 1.0 FTE
  • Increase the technical support assistant position from 0.6 FTE to 1.0 FTE (formerly a clerical position)
  • Increase the school psychologist position from 0.6 FTE to 1.0 FTE

The proposed budget also calls for the purchase of eight transportation vehicles – five 66 passenger school buses at a maximum estimated cost of $108,560 each; and three wheelchair lift vans at a maximum estimated cost of $72,400 each; for a total estimated cost of $760,000.

Typically, the district lists a separate proposition for bus purchases on the ballot; however, the 19% increase in state aid, as mentioned above, will help cover the cost as part of the general budget, and will save the district on interest from being bonded over five years. The new buses will have gas motors, which are less expensive than diesel motors, and will result in long term cost savings on diesel exhaust fluid, additives, oil changes and filters.

Additional propositions

In addition to the proposed budget, district residents will be asked to vote on two separate propositions and elect two members to the Board of Education:

1. Approve a $9 million Capital Improvement Project

Residents will vote to approve a proposed $9,082,558 Capital Improvement Project to address HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) upgrades and roof renovations at the Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School. The project will be fully funded using federal aid and district reserves — no additional borrowing is necessary to fund these projects.

Why are these projects necessary?

Simply put, the aging HVAC systems and roof at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School are becoming detrimental to our youngest students’ learning experience. Poor indoor air quality, thermal discomfort, background noises and water damage are hindering our students’ ability to learn — and our teachers’ ability to teach – in an environment that is comfortable, productive and safe.

Temperatures are inconsistent throughout the building, uneven from classroom to classroom, and students often feel either too hot or too cold, no matter the time of year. Indoor air quality isn’t up to today’s standards, and airborne pollutants may aggravate allergies and promote coughing or eye irritation. Additionally, the aging HVAC units are often noisy and distracting. Because approximately 75% of the unit ventilators at Scotchtown Avenue are 41-50 years old, it is becoming more difficult to find the necessary parts needed for repairs.

In addition to addressing heating and cooling at Scotchtown Avenue, the Capital Improvement Project will provide repairs to the school’s 30 year-old roof. Although the school’s maintenance staff works diligently to repair leaks, replace ceiling tiles and install patches, the amount of repairs related to leaks and water damage is superseding their efforts.

How will the projects be funded?

It’s important to note that the project will be fully funded via federal aid and district capital reserve funds. Therefore, the district is not asking for additional borrowing from taxpayers.

The project will be fully funded by:

  • $4,082,558 in federal funding via the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Act (CRRSA)
  • $5,000,000 currently in district capital reserve funds (see below).

If the proposal is approved by voters, the capital project will be competitively bid. If the bids come in lower than expected, the district plans to apply any excess funding to repair the roof at Goshen Intermediate School.

If the proposition is approved, $5 million will be expended from the Capital Reserve Fund to help cover the cost of the HVAC and roofing projects. This will deplete the fund entirely and district officials are asking voters to approve the creation of a new Capital Reserve Fund to help offset costs for future projects (see proposition 2).

2. Establish a Capital Reserve Fund

Voters will be asked to authorize the creation of a Capital Reserve Fund that will serve as a type of savings account in order to offset the cost of future renovation and construction projects throughout the district.

If residents approve the capital improvement project proposition (see proposition 1), the district’s current Capital Reserve Fund will be depleted and a new fund will be necessary to help offset the costs of future renovations – including the district’s multi-year plan to upgrade the HVAC systems in each school. A separate vote would still be needed to approve any proposed capital projects and withdraw money from the fund.

If approved, the Capital Reserve Fund will be established for a period of 10 years and can hold a maximum of $10 million. The fund will have a zero balance at its inception and money will be acquired from end-of-year surplus funds as well as any interest accrued over the fund’s 10-year term.

Please note that the district is NOT asking voters to immediately place $10 million into this reserve – it is simply asking voters to authorize the creation of the reserve and authorize the Board to fund it as money becomes available.

3. Elect two members to the Board of Education

Voters will elect two members to the Board of Education for three-year terms. The terms will commence on July 1, 2022 and expire on June 30, 2025. The successful candidates will fill the seats of Jeremy Cassel and Michael Lorenzo, whose terms expire at the end of the school year.

The candidates are, in ballot order:

  1. Tom Loftus
  2. James McClinsey
  3. Carla Alfieri
  4. Brett Weeden