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2019-20 Budget Questions and Answers

The annual school budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in the Old MS Gym from noon to 9 p.m.

Total Budget: $25,313,337
Spending Increase: 1.90%
Tax Levy Increase: 3.57%

What’s new in the proposed budget?

The 2019-20 budget proposal increases spending by $471,000, or 1.90%percent, over the current year. Much of that increase is driven by rising costs associated with salaries, employee pensions and benefits, as well as state and federal mandated programs and services.

The proposed budget also includes a teacher residency program through WSWHE BOCES, which includes partnerships with local colleges to promote teaching and teacher leadership. Through the program, teachers will assist and encourage the professional learning of a pre-service teacher resident by providing information, mentoring, cognitive coaching, modeling and problem solving. The district also plans to purchase three new school buses for $309,000, avoiding the need to take on any debt for new buses.

Is Stillwater Central School District below the maximum allowable tax levy?

Yes. Using a formula developed by the Office of the State Comptroller, Stillwater’s 2019-20 maximum allowable tax levy limit is 8.44 percent. However, the proposed 2019-20 budget would increase the tax levy by 3.57 percent, or $380,285, which is below what the law allows.

How would the proposed budget affect my taxes?

While the tax levy would increase by $380,285 next year, total property assessments within the district are also growing, meaning there are more properties across which to distribute the tax levy. So, while the tax levy is increasing 3.57 percent, because assessments have grown, the actual increase in tax rates is projected to be less than that. In fact, the district has preliminarily estimated tax rate increases of 2.04 percent.

Actual tax rates are set in August. These rates are based on final property assessments (provided by each town) and equalization rates for each town, which are provided by the state Office of Real Property Services.

How does the Global Foundries PILOT affect the district’s budget?

The Global Foundries PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) continues to provide a guaranteed source of revenue for the district. The district will receive $1,875,000 through the PILOT in 2019-20. Although this is a decrease from the current year based on the terms of the agreement, the PILOT continues to provide revenue that supports programs and services for students.

Why is there a vote for the Stillwater Free Library on the ballot?

On May 21, residents will vote on a separate proposition to approve the Stillwater Free Library budget and elect library trustees. The library is seeking to increase its budget from $269,479 in 2018-19 to $280,558 in order to support and maintain services. This money will be collected by the district and then forwarded to the library. The Stillwater Free Library has the same service boundary as the school district, however it is not governed by the district.

What happens if the budget is defeated?

Under New York state law, if the proposed budget is defeated by voters, the board has three options: present the same budget a second time, present a revised budget or adopt a contingent budget. If the budget is defeated a second time, the board must adopt a contingent budget.

Under a contingent budget, a district can levy a tax no greater than that of the prior budget year—a zero percent increase. In other words, Stillwater would have to eliminate the $380,285 tax levy increase included in the budget proposal by finding additional revenues, making additional reductions and/or by allocating more fund balance.

What else will be on the ballot on May 21?

Building Maintenance

On May 21, there will be one proposition on the ballot related to maintenance improvements. The proposition is to expend $100,000 in the capital reserve fund to finance an upcoming capital outlay project to replace the lockers in the elementary school building. This project is a continuation of the district’s long-range plan to improve and maintain its facilities. This $100,000 is accounted for in the district budget annually, and therefore does not represent additional spending beyond the proposed budget.

The district would receive state aid reimbursement for nearly 84 percent of the cost of the project.

Board of Education Election

Along with the budget vote on Tuesday, May 21, the district will hold its annual board of education election.

Terms currently held by Kristina Greene, Valerie Masterson and Shay Valigorsky will expire on June 30, 2019. As a result, there are three open seats on the board, each with a three-year team beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2022.

The district has received four petitions, from Amanda Cocozzo, Kristina Greene, Valerie Masterson and Shay Valigorsky, for the three available seats.

When and where do I vote on the 2019-20 school budget?

Residents can vote on the school district budget on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in the old Stillwater Middle School Gym.

Information on absentee ballots:

Absentee ballots are available for registered voters who meet the requirements for absentee voting. To receive an absentee ballot by mail, you must submit a completed application at least seven (7) days before the election or pick it up in person at the district office. Call Board Clerk Renee Price at (518) 373-6100, ext. 30022, for assistance.