Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a Capital Project?
It is like home improvements for schools. By NYS Law, the school district inspects its property regularly, working with an architect to maintain a five-year, capital improvement plan. Some issues require immediate attention, while other repairs and upgrades can be spread out over time.
This is done in much the same way a homeowner utilizes savings or obtains an improvement loan to fund major repairs, such as a roof. For school districts, this is called a “Capital Project”; in our case we would enter into a 15-year bond in order to pay for the project over time, to coincide with expected State Building Aid payments.
2. Why capital project versus operations and maintenance?
The State Education Department (SED) encourages school districts to undertake a routine schedule of capital improvements to maintain their facilities and grounds.
To further encourage enhancing schools, SED reimburses districts through “Building Aid” for capital projects (different from “Operating Aid”). SED pays a percentage of capital project costs, in our case 74.3%, and the district pays the balance known as “Local Share”. Through this project, the District projects to receive $814,096 per year in additional state aid from 2021 to 2035 during repayment of the loans to pay for the project.
If facility construction work were to be completed out of the Operations and Maintenance budget, there would be NO STATE AID (100% Local Share).
3. Why doesn’t the District just include these items in the annual budget?
By creating a Capital Project from the work that needs to be done, the District will receive 74.3¢ back on every dollar spent. Without that reimbursement from NY State, the entire cost would rest with the tax-payers.
Major construction cannot be absorbed into the annual budget and is best funded and paid over several years.
4. What is the cost of the project, and what is the estimated average cost to taxpayers?
The capital project proposition has a proposed overall cost of $14,000,000. With debt service from our 1999 capital project falling off, the NET debt increase per year for the proposed capital project is $125,000, or 9 cents per $1,000 assessed value (+.44 percent). A typical homeowner with a $160,000 property assessment would have a net ANNUAL tax increase of $14.40, for 15 years.
5. Why is voter approval needed?
Voter approval is required whenever it is necessary to maintain currently levied tax amounts, increase the tax levy, and establish or expend funds from capital reserves. Money placed into capital reserves must be earmarked for specific projects, and can only be spent on those projects for which it was intended, via a voter referendum.
6. What is included and why is the project needed?
The project includes improvements to aging roofs, upgrades to auditoriums and theatrical lighting and sound systems, and reconstruction of aging athletic fields, including the development of the stadium field into a multi-sport field with the use of synthetic turf. Materials like roofing become costly to maintain as they age, and are more prone to failure at their current age. Auditoriums have had limited improvements over the years, and their sound and lighting systems require upgrades in order to effectively present our performers, and expose our students to the operations of more current theater equipment. Campus athletic fields are showing signs of degradation and overuse, without opportunity to add brand new fields, the use of synthetic turf as a main stadium field will allow for access and use of the playing surface by all sports for practice and, many for home games. Replacement of the stadium field playing surface, and replacement of surrounding grass fields represents a more sustainable plan to keep our fields from being overplayed, and deteriorating prematurely.
7. Why now?
The district’s retiring debt service allows an opportunity to present the proposed capital project at a time when the NET tax increase can be kept much lower than if the project was planned for a different time period.
Over time, our facility needs will continue to grow, not diminish or go away. We don’t expect SED’s contribution to capital project costs to get any better than it is right now.
We also know that construction costs continue to escalate with each passing year.
If we choose to wait and pursue the same project in the future, we would expect the cost to the taxpayers to be higher.
8. What happens if the Capital Project is NOT Approved?
Costs could go up. The financing for this project will allow the Scotia-Glenville Central School District to spread payments for the work over several years to correspond with the building aid that we receive from the State. If voted down, several of the items will need to be addressed in the annual operating budget thus taking funds away from our academic programs and overall operations. Other items such as athletic fields will continue to deteriorate leading to continued high maintenance costs and eventually more limitations on playable surfaces due to safety concerns.
Items paid for out of annual budget would generate NO State Building Aid (100% local share).
9. Isn’t State Aid just my tax dollars too?
Yes, it is. The New York State Legislature has given all Districts in the state an opportunity to use tax dollars to enhance their communities through school building improvements and renovations. This is an opportunity to keep some of those tax dollars in our own community and improve the educational setting for our children.
10. Will there be any surprise costs after the voting?
No. We are asking the voters to approve the maximum borrowing that is needed for this project. The cost can only be lowered after the vote.
11. If the project is approved by voters, when will the work be completed?
After voter approval, the plans and specifications will need to be completed by the architects and engineers and will be submitted to New York State for approval (SED issues our “building permit”). This process and approval from the state can take a year or more.
We are investigating the possibility of an expedited permit review to try to capture the 2019 summer construction season. The actual construction period is dependent on SED approval, but we are hopeful that it will begin in 2019 and be completed by the fall of 2020.
12. How can we learn more about the project? What if we have additional questions?
We encourage the community to attend the scheduled Public Information Sessions on May 2nd at 6:15 p.m. in the Middle School Cafeteria, May 5th at 10 a.m. at the High School track, and May 14th at 6:15 p.m. at Glendaal Elementary School. Additional information can be found on the District’s website at https://www.scotiaglenvilleschools.org/capital-project-may-15-2018/, as well as by contacting the Superintendent, Business Manager, or Board Members about how this project was developed.
13. Will this project complete our capital improvement needs?
Not indefinitely. Buildings and ground continue to age and see consistent use by students, staff and members of the public. Wear on surfaces and constant exercise of everything that is mechanical leads to deterioration over time; addressing these items must be anticipated, and budgeted for in the future. At the urging of SED, we plan to embark on a routine program of capital improvements, maximizing our State Aid. Acting with fiscal responsibility, we wish to minimize the cost to our taxpayers, while maintaining safe, healthy and appropriate learning environments for our students, staff and community.
14. Are there advantages to a synthetic turf field?
Turf fields do have several advantages over grass fields. Turf fields can get more use than grass and can allow one to two additional months of play per year. Natural grass fields are limited in the number of times they can be played on before the field is degraded and will require costly rehabilitation, where turf play is only limited to what scheduling can allow. In wetter seasons, or in rainy or wet conditions, turf field can still be used, and remains dry due to the drainage systems included; snow also melts off of turf fields earlier in the year. Grass fields should not be used in wet conditions, because the grass absorbs the water and holds it at the surface; playing a wet or saturated grass field can destroy it and may not be safe. Having one synthetic turf field is actually the equivalent of having three or more separate grass fields, when you consider these additional play time factors.
The consistency of synthetic turf fields contributes to safety, where moisture and maintenance variations in grass surfaces can be a concern, especially when considering traction and ball bounce.
Synthetic turf has a lower maintenance cost than grass because fertilizing, watering, cutting and striping is no longer necessary. Use of fertilizers or chemicals on grass may also be a safety concern. Due to the lower maintenance cost and amount of use a synthetic turf can get, the ‘cost per event’ is actually lower with turf over the life of the field.