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Frequently Asked Budget Questions

2013-2014 Chenango Valley School Budget Frequently Asked Questions

What do we vote on in May?
On May 21, 2013, residents in public school districts throughout New York State will vote on the expense budget for the 2013-14 school year, as proposed by the school administration and board of education.

What is a tax levy?

A tax levy is the total amount of funds that a school district must raise to balance its budget, after accounting for all other sources of revenue including state aid.

 

Why do individual tax bills increase by a different percentage than the tax levy percentage increase?

Tax bills are calculated using several factors, not just the school district tax levy.Tax bills are impacted by equalization rates and changes to the STAR program, which are both determined by the state.These rates and changes can vary from town to town within the district.

 

How does the tax cap work and why isn’t it 2%?

The “cap” is actually more of a calculated tax levy limit.It is an 8-step calculation that will result in a different limit for every school district.The resulting tax levy limit can range from 0% to 12-13% increase …perhaps even higher in certain situations.This is the limit that a school district can raise in taxes with a simple majority of voters.If a school district needs to assess a levy higher than that amount, it would take a “super majority” to approve it.For example, if a school district calculates their maximum allowable tax levy to be a 4.5% increase from the previous year, they could put out a budget that would require up to that amount and it would only require a simple majority to pass it.If they needed a levy that exceeds this calculated limit, then they would have to disclose that to the taxpayers and it would require 60% of the voters to vote “yes” in order to pass it.

 

I thought that the state was increasing state aid to school districts by 4.4%.Why do you need to increase the tax levy given this increase in aid?

The 4.4% isn’t being distributed equally among all school districts.Some of it is tied directly to expenses, some of it to competitive grants that few districts would qualify for, and a large portion is identified as “fiscal stabilization” funds that the state has not determined how it will distribute.When taking these factors into account, schools will actually receive an aid increase of 1.3%.

In addition, the state has recalculated building aid, thereby reducing payments to school districts beginning this year.For many districts, this reduction in building aid will offset the 1.3% increase in regular state aid.


Lastly, four years ago, aid to all school districts was drastically cut and hasn’t been restored.In CV’s case, we lost over $2MM in aid that has only been marginally restored.

 

What steps has the district taken to reduce expenses?

  • Reduced staff
  • Refinanced debt to lower interest rates
  • Obtain bids/quotes for best prices
  • Limited/eliminated/reduced purchases of all kinds
  • Share services when appropriate

Can the district save money by eliminating administrators?

CV has one of the lowest administrative percentages of any district in the area.We continually review our administrative costs and the mandated program/reporting requirements to determine if any savings can be derived from this area.

 

How will the district account for the excess taxes collected in September, 2012?

The excess amount has been placed in a dedicated, interest-bearing account to be used solely to reduce taxes collected in September 2013.This amount plus interest will be used to reduce the total levy for the 13-14 school year by reducing the tax rate for every town in the district.There will be information included on the insert included with your tax bill that will show what the tax rate would have been before the application of the excess levy and after.Follow this link for more information.

 

Why did the district decide to buy buses in November?

Last August, our transportation department determined that many buses were approaching the end of their warranties, and significant repairs would be necessary to keep them running safely.Although the district had developed a bus replacement plan several years ago, several factors caused us to put this plan on hold.In order to get back on track with our replacement plan, the Board of Education decided to hold a referendum in November for the purchase of 5 new buses, which would have been put into service during this school year.Unfortunately, voter turnout was very low and the proposition failed by nine votes.

 

Why did the bus proposition fail?

Some voters were under the misconception that the buses may not be needed if the merger with Chenango Forks is approved.In reality, it has been determined that the same number of bus routes will be needed if the two districts merge.Also, some voters mistakenly believed that the district was holding the bus vote in November in order to circumvent the tax calculation.In fact, the purchase of buses is not a factor in calculating a school district's maximum allowable tax levy.Bus purchases are financed over five years and are partially offset by transportation aid.Had the proposition passed, the net cost in the budget would have been approximately $22,000 per year.

 

Will the district put another bus proposition on the ballot this May?

Yes, the district will be placing a bus purchase proposition on the May ballot.

 

What happens if that bus proposition fails?

The district would begin to pay more for repairs that are not covered under warranty.It is entirely possible that the cost to repair these older vehicles would exceed the net cost of financing the new buses.