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School Budget Re-Vote: June 16, 2015, 1pm until 8pm

School Budget Re-Vote: June 16, 2015 1:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. in the Auditorium

Dear Parents and Residents,

As you may know, on May 19th, the voters of the school district voted 88-79 in favor of the proposed school budget. However, the close margin of approval failed to meet the 60% approval rate that is mandated under the State’s “Tax Cap” law. As such, the school district was left with two options. The first option would be moving the district directly to a contingent budget that would maintain the same tax levy amount as in the 2014-2015 school budget. The second option is to return to the public for a second vote. At a special Budget Meeting of the Board of Education on May 28th, the Board approved a second vote on the proposed 2015-2016 School District budget, in an effort to maintain the excellent educational programs here at the school, and to place the school in a positive financial direction that ensures our future.

As New York State slowly recovers from what has been a very difficult recession in the economy, our school district is still feeling the effects of the economic downturn. Over the past five school years, New York State has used over $1,900,000 of our school aid to help balance the state budget. This reduction in aid is known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or the GEA. Over the past three years, that GEA reduction in school aid has required our school to use about $650,000 of our savings to maintain a balanced budget and keep taxes within the tax levy limit that has been widely publicized as the “2% tax cap.” Using the school’s reserves at this rate is simply not sustainable over time.

The main increase in this proposed budget comes from costs associated with educating students with special needs. The increase in that line of the budget alone is $392,265, which is actually more than the total proposed increase of $346,020. We would have been able to maintain a flat budget for next year if not for the unexpectedly high influx of students who require special programming, understanding fully that all of our students should receive the supports necessary for them to be successful here in school and later in college and career.

The proposed budget approved by the Board of Education projects a total average increase in local taxes in the amount of 4.9 %. Once a Basic STAR exemption has been applied, the estimated increase in taxes on a home assessed at $50,000 would be $13.85 per year, and for a home assessed at $100,000 the increase would be estimated at $48.47 per year. (This estimate is based on the 2014 equalization and assessment rates.) Although we continue to institute internal controls and track our spending very closely, this percentage is above our prescribed tax levy limit, which is actually a negative amount, and as such will require us to have a 60% affirmative vote on June 16th in order to pass.

We will also be appropriating $913,000 in fund balance to help reduce the tax levy. The proposed tax levy increase and use of fund balance will allow us to maintain our outstanding child-centered educational program.

Why do we need a 60% affirmative vote? Under the State’s tax levy limit, the amount of money that you pay for financing is calculated into the tax cap number. Due to the fact that we paid the final financing charges on two of our buses this year, and the fact that those reductions in “debt service” payments work to lower the local tax levy limit, our tax cap is a negative number. Given that fixed operation costs continue to rise, and that we simply cannot offer the programs students need for less money than this school year, we are asking the community for additional support in approving a budget that is above that negative levy number.

Our students continue to do very well academically. The collaboration of our school, community, parents, teachers, and the Board of Education has allowed our students to consistently make us proud of their academic performance. We will continue our commitment to provide our students with the skills they will need to successfully compete for jobs in a global marketplace despite these times of economic hardship which plague the state and especially the North Country. We thank you as a Board of Education and a staff for your continued support for the education of our children. The Budget presentation will be held on June 8th at 7:30 P.M. in the school auditorium. If you cannot attend, please feel free to call one of us, or any Board Member, and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have. Thank you again for your continued support of our great students and school system. We encourage all qualified voting residents to come out on Tuesday the 16th of June and vote between the hours of 1:00 to 8:00 P.M. in the School Auditorium.

WHAT IS ON THE JUNE 16TH BALLOT? Proposition: Adoption of the 2015-2016 Budget requires a tax levy increase of 4.9% which exceeds the statutory tax levy increase limit of –1.49% for this school fiscal year and therefore exceeds the state tax cap and must be approved by sixty percent of the qualified voters present and voting. Qualified voters will vote on a proposed spending plan of $10,792,137. For more information, please visit www.phcs.neric.org

A Budget Hearing will be held on June 8th at 7:30 P.M. in the School Auditorium. At this time, you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the 2015-2016 School Budget. Applications for absentee ballots can be obtained by contacting the District Office at (315) 265-4642. Applications for absentee ballots must be received in the Superintendent’s Office at least seven days prior to the vote (June 9th).

12 County Route 47
Parishville, NY 13672
Phone: 315-265-4642
Fax: 315-268-1309

Mission Statement:
The PHCS community strives to instill in all students the knowledge and skills necessary to become caring, conscientious, and creative citizens.

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