Voters to decide on tax-neutral capital improvement project referendum on Dec. 2

Warwick. Warwick Valley School District officials say residents will see no tax increase associated with $13.8 million proposal that will affect four school buildings.

| 02 Nov 2021 | 05:36

The Warwick Valley School Board is placing before voters a proposed capital improvement project that its members say has no tax impact on local taxpayers. The vote is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 2.

The $13.8 million proposal would fund high-need infrastructure improvements at four schools, avoiding the need for costly emergency repairs in the coming years, creating valuable energy savings, and making a healthier and safer learning environment for students and staff.

Some of the projects are:

A new roof at Sanfordville Elementary School;

New windows at Park Avenue Elementary; and

New unit ventilators at the Middle School and High School.

In addition, an expanded multi-sport natural grass athletic field at the stadium, a new track and block wall outdoor restrooms are among other projects that are planned.

Listening to the community

In December 2019, the district officials presented a capital project referendum to voters that featured two artificial turf sports fields. The district also included several projects recognized as vital to the educational facilities. The community overwhelmingly voted down this proposition.

The Board of Education recognized the community’s concerns regarding the scope of the previous project and the District’s Facilities Committee has worked with its engineers and listened to community feedback to propose this revised capital project referendum.

“It was important for the board to be respectful and to hear the community’s feedback and take the time to plan our next capital project properly,” said Board President Keith Parsons. “We believe, based on community feedback, that this is a viable capital project that meets the needs of the District and the community.”

Pragmatic approach to spending

The Board of Education and district leaders are committed to prudent, annual budgeting for operations and not creating an additional tax burden by funding major infrastructure projects through the general budget.

In fact, over the past eight years, the district’s average annual increase in the tax levy has remained under 1.65 percent. The district finances its capital projects through state building aid, which New York State created to encourage communities to maintain their schools, and its capital reserve fund. The district utilizes this strategy so there is no additional tax impact on local taxpayers.

The district maximizes state tax dollars on capital projects, receiving about 63.8 percent in state building aid. This means that for every eligible dollar spent on a capital project, the district will receive about 64 cents in building aid from New York State. District officials estimate that $8.8 million of this capital project would be funded by state building aid and $5 million would come from funds set aside in the district’s voter-approved capital reserve.

Capital improvement project breakdown
The following is a breakdown of costs and major capital project items by school:
Warwick Valley High School: $6,625,000
Partial roof replacement, replacement of auditorium air handling unit, new auditorium seating, replacement of four gym unit ventilators, track replacement and expansion, natural grass playing field expansion into a multi-sport field and construction of block wall exterior restrooms.
Sanfordville Elementary School: $3,325,000
Replacement of 107,000-square-foot roof and construction of block wall exterior restrooms.
Park Avenue Elementary: $1,525,000
Installation of new windows.
Warwick Valley Middle School: $750,000.
Replacement of four gym unit ventilators; construction of block wall exterior restrooms.
Incidentals: $1,587,154
Thirteen percent of the total school projects for architectural fees, testing, contingent costs and construction management
Total: $13,812,154
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