What will this do to my taxes?

The Capital Project in not anticipated to cause a tax increase. This is possible because the district has existing debt which will soon be paid off. The cost of the project can take the place of the retiring debt.

The current availability of New York State Building and Excel Aid and low interest rates enhance the opportunity to protect our community’s investment in our school buildings.


How much will all this cost?

The voters are being asked to approve $14.4 million for the Capital Project. It is anticipated that 76 percent, or about $10.9 million, of the proposed Capital Project will be funded with New York State Building and Excel Aid. The remaining $3.5 million has been strategically scheduled so retiring debt will offset a tax increase.


Why now?

After years of Board and community discussion on the buildings’ needs, the Board determined this to be proper timing for the Capital Project. Interest rates are favorable and retiring debt will offset a large portion of its local cost. Our buildings are old. Just like old houses, schools need to be periodically upgraded to improve efficiency, prevent system failure, avoid costly emergency repairs, and preserve their structural and system integrity. As every homeowner and car owner knows, preventative maintenance is more cost effective than paying the inflated costs typically charged for emergency responses.By planning for the project, the District also benefits from the competitive bidding process, which is not possible in emergencies.


Can you promise the work won't go over budget, and what if it does?

The voters are being asked to authorize $14.4 million. By law, the project cannot exceed this amount, and the construction process will be managed closely and carefully.


Will this interfere with instruction?

Most of the work would be done over summer months, so school will go on as usual.


Couldn't we wait?

The items targeted for replacement have already deteriorated or have reached the end of their expected and useful lives. The Board carefully considered the risk of experiencing a major system failure – such as in a roof or heating system. Emergency repairs are expensive and are seldom eligible for State reimbursement. The current availability of State Aid reimbursement and low interest rates, along with the ability to time repayment with retiring debt, were major considerations in the Board's decision to place the project before the voters at this time. The Board is also concerned that costs for the work will increase in the future.


Will the hot water heating system and other upgrades mean energy savings?

One of the main goals of the Capital Project is to maximize energy savings and improve efficiency wherever possible. Most notably, replacing the 1955 Elementary steam heat system with an energy-efficient hot water system will result in dramatic fuel savings of 25-30 percent in the effected buildings. Antiquated kitchen equipment in the Middle/High school kitchen will also be replaced with efficient models.


Who came up with the list of work?

The District’s architects identified the proposed work in the state-mandated Building Condition Survey, which is required every five years. To keep the project tax neutral, the highest priority infrastructure deficiencies in the areas of health/safety, energy efficiency, and deteriorated building conditions were included. Infrastructure concerns comprise a significant portion of the project and include replacement of failing, outdated, and inefficient systems and structures and high-priority health and safety improvements. Left unaddressed, these issues could lead to failure, expensive emergency repairs, and eventually compromise the safety of staff and students.


Why don’t we just include this work in the regular school budget?

The operating budget and a capital project are independent of one another and are funded differently. The work typically included in a Capital Project is large scale and beyond what’s considered regular building maintenance. The work is also too expensive to be funded through the operating budget, which is the annual funding for teachers, textbooks, programs, transportation, and the day-to-day costs of running a school.

New York encourages districts to care for their buildings and invest in infrastructure by offering a financial incentive called Building Aid. To leverage Building Aid, voters must approve the project. Ellenville does use some of its annual operating budget to address smaller scale building needs that don’t qualify for State Aid reimbursement.

This is the first major project being brought to the voters since 2000.


What happens if the project is defeated?

In the event of a system failure repairs would be done on an emergency basis, and emergency work does not qualify for State Aid.