Dear District Residents:
This budget newsletter gives information on the propositions on the ballot for voter approval in May. Every year we work to develop a budget that is fiscally responsible and supports sound educational programs for our children. Two propositions up for vote are detailed within: our proposed Board adopted budget for the 2019-20 school year and a bus proposition.
Proposition #1, the proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year of $42,019,378 includes a local tax levy increase of 2.51% or $414,663 which is within the state tax cap for SGI. We’ve reduced costs in many areas of the budget. Our budgeted total expenditures are increasing for two main reasons: salaries and benefits and payments related to construction (debt service).
Debt service can be confusing so I want to further explain what it means. We are in the final year of construction on our 2016 voter approved project and we begin work on the voter approved P-TECH Academy (the old District Office) in May 2019.
Why such an increase to debt service when we told you that our capital projects would have a minimal impact on the taxpayers? Here’s how it works: We borrow money to do construction and pay it back over time. Local taxpayers fund 20.2% of our construction costs and we receive 79.8% in building aid. But, we have to pay back principal and interest on our loans before we receive all of our aid payments from the state. As a result we see an increase in debt service for this one budget cycle in 19-20 before receiving any aid. So what do we do?
In the 2019-20 budget, we have debt service principal and interest payments of $3,754,901 which represents debt for the 2010, 2016 and 2018 capital projects. The expected building aid in 2019-20 is $1,834,476 leaving a gap of $1,920,425 (because we don’t receive the aid on the 2016
project until the 2020-21 school year). In the 2019-20 budget, we close this $1.9 million gap from three sources:
- capitalized interest that was planned for this reason in the 2016 and 2018 projects
- use of our debt service reserve fund as mandated by the NYS Education Department
- tax levy, the planned local share (20.2%) for the projects.
Proposition #2 is for the purchase of buses as the District continues its bus replacement plan started five years ago. We just completed an audit of our transportation department and are closely monitoring our replacement plan to ensure that it is beneficial to taxpayers.
We urge you to read the following pages carefully prior to voting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, from 10 am to 9 pm at our three polling places. We’ve moved the location of the polling place at the High School Main Lobby back to the High School Library Media Center to make it easier for voters to access the building. The Library will be closed off from the rest of the school that day to maintain the safety and security of our students. The election of two Board of Education members will also be on the ballot.
We thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration.
Kimberly Moritz, Superintendent and the SGI Board of Education