School budget won’t raise levy

According to Superintendent Jerry Griffin, the total proposed budget that will go to residents for a budget referendum vote in May, totals $56,171,341, a 2.6% increase from last year’s budget, but will result in no increase to the local levy. Evan Wheaton/Malone Telegram

MALONE — The Board of Education for the Malone Central School District approved the 2021-2022 budget that will not result in an increase to the local levy, Tuesday evening.

According to Superintendent Jerry Griffin, the total proposed budget that will go to residents for a budget referendum vote in May, totals $56,171,341, a 2.6% increase from last year’s budget.

However, during the budget presentation to Malone’s Board of Education, Griffin explained the proposed budget will result in a negative tax cap for the school district.

“We’re actually in a situation where we have a negative tax cap of -0.05%,” Griffin said, in an email response to a request for comment.

According to Griffin’s email, 2021 is the second consecutive that there will be no increase in the local levy, adding last year’s tax cap was zero.

“Last year we were at 0%,” Griffin said in an email, “This is our second year in a row not increasing the local levy.”

The tax levy limit sets a threshold requiring school districts to obtain a higher level of community support, with a simple majority, 50%, required for budgets under the tax levy limit but a supermajority, 60% or more, required for any proposals above the tax levy amount.

In addition to the school budget referendum, voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on a capital project proposition, a related energy performance proposition, a bus proposition, and vote on two board of education seats, in May.

During Tuesday’s meeting the board of education voted to set a budget hearing for May 11, with the vote itself scheduled for May 18.

The board met three times in March to finish work on the proposed budget.

At the board’s first March meeting, Griffin presented information on the proposed capital bond referendum, a $28.2 million proposal.

Griffin’s presentation included an overview of the size and scope of the proposed project, explaining Franklin Academy, Malone Middle School, Davis Elementary School, Flanders Elementary School and St. Joseph’s Elementary School would see improvements if the referendum was passed by voters.

“Our schools will see a tremendous number of improvements, on every campus, particularly for roofs and heating systems,” Griffin said, at Tuesday’s meeting.

According to Griffin, though the total project cost is $28,235,250, the projected impact on the local levy is $0, based on the estimated financing for the project.

Griffin said annual bond payments are projected to be $112,458.

However, Griffin explained there would be a projected annual cost of $29,730 over the 15-year financing period, with a total actual cost of $445,950.

Griffin said the district allocated funds to reserve accounts last year to prepare for the proposed project, with the district planning to use funds from the capital reserve to pay the project annual costs of the project.

Griffin said Malone is a high aid district, meaning they receive substantial reimbursement for capital projects, at a rate of 90%.

The energy performance contract for the project, which residents will also vote on in May, totals $3.5 million, with an energy performance contract payment of $237,102, and anticipated revenue from the performance contract coming in at $319,830.

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