VCSD draft budget up 4.7% for next year

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There are about 3,850 parcels in the Voorheesville Central School District.

NEW SCOTLAND — Absent a one-time $3 million capital project layout, the Voorheesville Central School District’s $31.5 million initial draft budget for  the 2024-25 school is up 4.7 percent over this year’s voter-approved spending plan.

The increase to individual property tax bills typically isn’t calculated until after tentative assessment rolls are out, which is usually March 1, according to James Southard, Voorheesville’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations. 

The state-set levy limit for next year is estimated at approximately $21 million, a 3.7-percent increase over this year; the district anticipates asking voters to OK the full amount. Last year, Voorheesville could have increased its levy by 4.32 percent over the previous year but instead went with a 2.5-percent bump.

There are about 3,850 parcels in the Voorheesville Central School District with a total assessable value of about $1 billion, according to data from Albany County.

For this school year, the district’s “true value” tax rate was about $16.40 per $1,000 assessed value down from $18.12 the year prior, according to real property tax rate levy data from the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance

The “true value” rate is what property owners from the school district’s three municipalities pay in taxes after the uniform percentage is applied. This school year, the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value was about $21 in New Scotland, $18 in Guilderland, and about $36 in Berne, but after multiplying by the state-set uniform percentage — 74, 85, and 43 percent respectively — those rates were all about $16.40 per $1,000.

For the third year in a row, Vooreesville is not projecting a budget shortfall, which comes after the district started the three prior budget seasons $100,000, $200,000, and $542,000 in the red. 

 Voorheesville is slated to receive about $9.4 million in state aid in 2045-25, which is up 3 percent from this year, with over 60 percent of that funding coming in the form of Foundation Aid, which, at $5.8 million, is up about 1.6 percent over this year. 

The remainder of next year’s budget revenue comes from $862,000 in fund balance allocation and $614,500 from a source labeled by the district as “other.”



Capital project

The $3 million one-off outlay, which actually makes next year’s budget increase about 14.7 percent, will help pay for the district’s multi-million-dollar capital project. 

The $25.3 million undertaking includes a new long-awaited bus garage for $6.6 million, upgrades at the elementary school for $9.9 million, another $5.8 million in incidentals such as construction soft costs like architectural, engineering, and legal fees, as well as new project furniture, and a $2.5 million contingency.

With a 30-year bond, the project will end up costing Voorheesville about $29 million. But the district is set to receive $17.6 million in state aid, bringing down the local burden to about $11.6 million.

The project’s total debt service for the first 15 years would be about $1.42 million per year, with state aid covering about $922,650 and the remaining $497,000 coming from property taxes, which translates to a 2.5-percent increase in the tax levy.

The final 15 years of debt servicing would cost about $530,000 annually, with $247,000 per year coming from the state and $276,000 per year from property taxes, and a levy decrease of 1.1 percent.



Next year’s budget maintains funding for all current positions, and allocates money for a full-time school resource offer, an issue that the school board specifically has hemmed and hawed over for nearly as long as its attempt to get a new bus garage built. 

“A few years back, we had a conversation regarding SRO,” Superintendent Frank Macri said during the Feb. 5 board of education meeting. “And last year I did a safety audit with the board and I said I could not recommend an SRO at the time because we didn’t have an assistant principal.”

The district has since hired an assistant principal.

“We've done all of the mitigating factors,” Macri said. “The last mitigating factor that would be if we were looking to add an SRO, would be an SRO.”

There was then discussion about soliciting community feedback, like what was proposed in 2022, when a forum, similar to an utterly unattended event four years earlier, with different stakeholders like the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, New York State School Boards Association, community members, students, and teachers was suggested by one board member, “to inform us.”

The August 2018 forum was held to solicit feedback on implementing the SRO program — but no one came. 

The Enterprise reported at the time: “The Voorheesville School Board [in July 2018]  tabled a vote on hiring a sheriff’s deputy for the upcoming school year, citing more community input was needed to make a decision … Had more people come [to the July 2018 meeting], they would have heard school staff, drawing from prior and present experience with school resource officers, unanimous in its praise of the program as well as clarity about the officer’s specific role in the schools.”

The district eventually asked residents to fill out an online survey, yielding 450 responses, many of which were called one-sided due to what one board member said was an influence campaign designed to skew the results in favor of placing an officer in school. 

Finally, in mid-September 2018, the board approved an SRO for a one-year pilot program, which was not renewed. 

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