Voters to decide on $44.4 million budget proposal

Spending plan for 2016-17 maintains programs, stays within tax cap

Residents of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 17, to decide on a $44,450,531 budget proposed for the 2016-17 school year that maintains all current student programs.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day, and voters will also decide on school board candidates, a bus purchase proposition and ballot questions related to the community library.
The proposed school budget calls for a tax levy of 1.63 percent, which equals the district’s limit based on the state’s tax levy cap calculation. This means that the support of a simple majority of voters (50 percent plus one) is required for the budget to be approved.

If the budget is approved, total spending would increase 2.92 percent, or $1,263,801, from the current year.

With a tax levy increase at that level, property owners with a house assessed at $150,000 in Bethlehem, Coeymans and New Scotland, where property is assessed at full value, would see a tax bill impact estimated at $46.50, while New Baltimore would see an increase of $87.

While building the budget, administrators focused on creating a plan that

  • Sustains all instructional, athletic and co-curricular programs
  • Improves transportation services for students
  • Considers long-term projections to ensure that future budgets will allow the district to maintain that same focus while avoiding spikes in expenditures

GEA FULLY RESTORED

The 2016-17 state budget ends the Gap Elimination Adjustment. The GEA was put in place in 2010 to help the state address its own financial challenges by withholding state aid from schools. During this time, nearly $14 million has been withheld from RCS. The restoration of the district’s outstanding GEA of $1.05 million, combined with changes in some other categories of state aid, will result in an overall 5 percent increase in state aid for RCS next year.

This aid increase will help the district preserve educational programs and address student needs in the proposed budget. In particular, the district will upgrade technology in the schools, offer extracurricular and athletic opportunities and maintain all existing core and elective course offerings including Advanced Placement and University in the High School.

FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE

Available revenue will also help the district reduce he use of appropriated fund balance by $125,000 – saving more for the future – and to bid Phase 2 of the capital project earlier than anticipated. This alone will save an estimated $500,000 in escalation costs that result from inflation.

“We looked at instructional programs, district initiatives and the capital project as we created the budget,” Superintendent Robert K. Libby said. “We focused on containing expenses where possible and managing our finances for the long term so that high-quality educational opportunities and services won’t be compromised.”