Voorheesville School District capital projects pass with ease

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Nearly 600 Voorheesville School District voters came out Tuesday to approve two capital projects.

NEW SCOTLAND — Voters in the Voorheesville School District on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two capital projects totaling over $27 million.

The first proposition, $25.2 million in construction projects, passed with about 68-percent approval, or 401 votes in favor and 189 against. 

The second proposition, a $2 million energy-performance contract, passed with about 81-percent approval, or 477 votes in favor and 111 against. 

The energy contract won’t have an impact on voters’ tax bill, according to the district. It’s paid for with state money and eventual reduced energy costs, but first has upfront costs, like swapping out the district’s old light fixtures for high-efficiency light-emitting diodes, that are borne by the district. 

The $25.2 million core project has two main components: approximately $9.9 million worth of work at the elementary school and the construction of a long-sought bus garage, valued at $6.6 million.

The capital project, among other things, would:

— Construct a bus garage behind the high school and across from Cornell Cooperative Extension, parallel to Martin Road;

— Consolidate the elementary administrative and health offices next to the existing bus garage, and then transform the bus garage into the elementary-school cafeteria;

— Install a new secure entrance vestibule at the elementary school; and

— Rework “existing space to create multiple general instructional spaces, including new music and arts classrooms, guidance suite, library makerspace and science labs,” according to the district.

Superintendent Frank Macri explained at an October school board meeting that the core capital project would end up costing $29 million after 30 years. However, the district would receive $17.6 million in state aid for those three decades, which brings down 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.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations James Southard said the “current true value” tax rate is approximately $16 per $1,000, meaning that, although the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value is about $20 in New Scotland, $18 in Guilderland, and $33 in Berne, the uniform percentage that each municipality is multiplied by — set by the state at 81, 91, and 50 percent respectively — gets those numbers to approximately $16 per $1,000. 

“So two-and-a-half percent of that is essentially 40 cents,” Southard said on Oct. 3

That’s if nothing changes, Southard said, adding, “We know there’s still going to be some growth in the tax rolls.”   

Macri said of the need for the project, “If we don’t do anything, and nothing happens, we can’t meet the needs of our community. Our enrollment is going to go up, and we will be teaching in hallways.”       

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