V’ville Board sends $24.7M budget to voters for approval

VOORHEESVILLE – Residents of New Scotland, Guilderland, and Berne who live in the Voorheesville Central School District in May will be asked to approve a $24,718,575 school budget for next year.

The budget, which is up about 2.2 percent from this year, was unanimously adopted by the school board on Monday.

At the March meeting, there had been a deficit of $255,000.

Because the two main revenue sources for the district are local property taxes and state aid, Superintendent Brian Hunt said, “If one is declining, then we have to look at cuts and/or have to look at increasing the other, which is the property-tax levy.”

To close the gap, Hunt recommended raising the tax levy to 2.5 percent (the original draft recommended a 2-percent levy), and eliminating a secretary in the business office, a computer teacher in the elementary school, and a teaching assistant. The duties of the cut positions – no one is being laid off; the people who held these jobs are retiring – will be redistributed among existing staff.

Depending on the municipality in which they reside – New Scotland, Guilderland, or Berne – taxpayers will have a different rate, which has yet to be determined and won’t be known until August, and will be affected by differing economic factors in each of the towns.

Guilderland and its equalization-rate problem, which caused a 12-percent increase in school taxes for town residents in the Voorheesville School District, and, in New Scotland, growth from new home construction will also affect the assessment rolls, according to Francis Rielly, Voorheesville’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations.

For this year, the 2017-18 school year, New Scotland residents paid $18.98 per $1,000 of assessed value; in Guilderland, residents paid $24.61 per $1,000; and residents of Berne paid $29.06 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The total tax levy for next year is estimated to be about $17.7 million.

To illustrate the tax-rate increase, Rielly used a “true value” example, which he said was only an average – a generic model – and did not take into account issues that individual municipalities were dealing with, like Guilderland’s equalization rate.

This year, using true value, residents paid $18.60 per $1,000 of assessed value; next year, residents would pay anywhere between $19.09 and $19.20 per $1,000 of assessed value. Under this example, the increase in taxes on a $250,000 home would be about $20 per year.

About three-quarters of the district’s tax levy comes from New Scotland; about one-quarter from Guilderland; and, only 1 percent of the tax levy comes from Berne.

Also during the May 15 vote, residents will decide on a $7.7 million capital project; a new capital-reserve fund; and two board seats – currently held by Cynthia Monaghan and Michael Canfora.

Both Monaghan and Canfora have picked up petitions to run for next year as have Matthew Normile, Michael Stampalia, and one person who picked up a petition for someone else, according to Jessica Tabakian, the board clerk. No petitions have been returned to Tabakian.

Petitions must have 25 signatures, or 2 percent of the voters in the last election, whichever is higher. They are due back to the district office by April 16.

Other business

In other business, the Voorheesville School Board:

– Heard from members of the girls’ varsity softball team, who spoke about what they viewed as the lack of equal opportunity between sports.

The girls used an example that had taken place earlier that day, when the softball field was not prepared to be played on, but the boys’ baseball field had been. It was pointed out that Voorheesville has one softball field and four baseball fields and that “it sends a clear message when the only field that we have isn’t being taken care.”

Hunt said that a forum is scheduled for April 30 to discuss gender equity in sports, and that students in grades 3 through 12 will be surveyed during gym class to find out what their interests and preferences are for sports;

– Heard from Hunt that he will be meeting with Sheriff Craig Apple to discuss the possibility of placing a school resource officer in the district. Hunt said that it would be a preliminary discussion, but wanted to let the sheriff know the district is interested in the opportunity. He also said that there may be funding available for a position;

– Heard from Rielly that the plan to store the district’s buses at the Albany County Department of Public Works garage is no longer a viable option.

The largest bus that the district owns does is too long to fit in the DPW garage and, due to the radiant-heating system hanging from the ceiling, is also too high.

Rielly said that he had toured a 10,000-square-foot facility at the Northeastern Industrial Park in Guilderland, which would cost the district about $40,000 a year to lease, of which about 57 to 60 percent can be recouped from the state. The district never received a per-square-foot cost from Albany DPW.

The buses would fit inside the facility at the Northeastern Industrial Park.

More New Scotland News

  • The New Scotland solar law’s prime-soil and soils-of-statewide-importance provisions make siting a solar project in town nearly impossible. 

  • The Voorheesville Central School District in a letter to parents said that “based on the timing of when” a person newly diagnosed with COVID-19 was “last at school, the Albany County Department of Health has indicated no need for further action, on behalf of the school, to have school community members quarantine.” 

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