Broadalbin-Perth board adopts budget proposal for 2018-19 school year

On Tuesday, May 15, residents of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will vote on a proposed $36,647,500 budget for the 2018-19 school year. The B-P Board of Education adopted the budget proposal during its regular meeting on Monday, April 16.

The proposed budget represents a 5.62 percent spending increase and a tax levy increase of 3.9 percent, which is below the district’s calculated tax levy “cap.” A simple majority of voters (more than 50 percent) is required for budget approval. More than half of the projected tax levy increase will go toward paying down debt associated with the 2016 capital project, while the rest will go toward the district’s annual operating budget.

“The Board of Education is pleased that the proposed budget is below the tax cap, keeps or expands existing programs, and importantly adds a therapeutic counselor to the staff to improve school safety,” said Board of Education President Ed Szumowski. “We’re also able to reduce future capital project costs to taxpayers by beginning to pay for some of the local share this year, and we’ve decreased the tax burden on fixed-income seniors by expanding their exemptions. I think these were responsible moves.”

Budget invests in student mental health, school supplies

The proposed budget includes $75,000 in salary and benefits for a full-time mental health counselor, who will be able to work directly with children who could benefit from therapy in the school setting.

“During the 2017-18 school year, we’ve invested in new devices and technology designed to enhance the security of our schools,” said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson. “In many ways, adding a mental health counselor to our staff will do even more to keep our students safe.”

Tomlinson said the budget also includes an additional $20,000 that the district will use to purchase school supplies currently provided by parents, reducing the length of school supply lists at every grade level. Broadalbin-Perth will further help parents with their annual school supply purchases by offering a service through which the district will purchase supplies at bulk prices and allow parents to purchase their children’s supplies directly from Broadalbin-Perth at the reduced price. Tomlinson estimates that, through both initiatives, parents will save, on average, $50-$75 per child on school supplies for the 2018-19 school year.

District reduces interest payments, spreads out tax increase related to capital project

The proposed budget includes $775,000 in new debt service to begin paying for the $39.7 million capital project residents approved in May 2016. This represents a change from the district’s original plan to complete the entire project before beginning to repay incurred debt.

According to the district’s architect, CSArch, and municipal financial advisor, Bernard P. Donegan, Inc., financing the project this way was not an option before residents voted on it in May 2016. Rather, this financing option became available after the district decided to complete capital project work in phases — a move that will reduce the amount of interest the district will pay and likely lower the taxpayers’ share of the project.

For taxpayers, this means there will no longer be a one-time average tax increase of $55 on a home valued at $100,000 with Basic STAR. Instead, the tax increase associated with the capital project will be phased in over several years. In the end, however, district officials said they are committed to the total average tax increase for the capital project being no more than the $55 per $100,000 of market value that was promised at the time of the vote. In fact, by taking this approach to financing the capital project, the district’s financial advisor has estimated that it is likely that the taxpayer share will end up being less than the average $55 per $100,000 of market value.

Board raises income limits for senior citizen tax exemption

In February, the board of education approved a resolution to increase the income limits for the senior citizens tax exemption for residents age 65 and older. The move exempts a portion of a senior homeowner’s tax bill based on income. Senior citizens must apply annually for this exemption through their town assessor’s office.

Qualified residents of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will vote on the proposed budget Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the middle and high school gymnasiums. Additional information about voting is available on the district website. Residents are invited to learn more and ask questions about the budget proposal at a public budget hearing starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 in the Virtual AP Room at BPHS. Detailed information about the budget proposal and other ballot propositions will be posted on the district website in the coming weeks. An informational brochure will be mailed to all households in early May.