Last week the Marlboro School Board approved a $58,363,438 budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which is $1.47 million higher than this year. The amount to be collected in the tax levy has increased by $907,337 to $35,686,305, and is right at the statutory tax cap limit of 2.61%.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Marlborough Town Hall, 21 Milton Tnpk, Milton. The budget vote itself is set for Tuesday, May 21 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., also at the Marlborough Town Hall.
Residents will see an estimated tax increase in the Town of Marlborough and Plattekill of $321 with Basic Star and $255 with Enhanced Star. In the Town of Newburgh the increase stands at $288 with Basic Star and $268 with the Enhanced Star.
The district noted that in 2018-19 the levy increase hit 2.46%, but in the years 2015 through 2018 there have been levy decreases ranging from -4.26% to -0.81%.
The district highlighted the major cost “drivers” in the 2019-20 budget: Salaries/payroll/FICA are up by $520,000; Health Insurance $180,000; Transportation $55,000; BOCES Services including Special Education at $480,000; Tech Budget $60,000 and the Facilities Equipment budget by $20,000. Two areas have decreased: in the Employee Retirement System [ERS] and in the Teacher Retirement System [TRS] by a total of $85,000 and the Debt Service by $39,000.
Within the 2019-20 budget the School Board approved several additions that had been under review for several months. They added a .2 Speech teacher for $10,000; a .2 Social Studies teacher- with the addition of a Sports and Entertainment Marketing elective – for $10,000; a Mandarin Chinese course via the internet at $40,000; additional student clubs and activities for $8,000; Drama Production Support for supplies and rentals at the Middle School for $2,500; a shared Technology Education teacher for $100,000; a .4 Physical Education teacher at the Elementary School for $30,000; moving 3 employees from permanent food service subs to permanent employees and adding an additional food service employee at the High School for $14,000 and including a 1.0 Maintenance Worker by cost sharing with OUBOCES for Middlehope) for $70,000.
At the May 21 budget vote, residents will also be asked to vote on the Vision 2020 Capital Project. The district has stated that this project will, “address key infrastructure updates, health and safety issues and spacing improvements throughout the district.” The district’s website has numerous charts and pictures that highlights the entire project.
Vision 2020 is estimated to cost $19,499,279 but key factors, such as past debt dropping off, will play a significant role in making the impact upon residents negligible. The debt issued for the project would drop to $16.5 million by the district using $3 million from their Capital Reserves and Fund balance. In addition, the state will aid 85% of the project costs in a ratio of 70.1%. This will leave the district paying a debt and interest total of $7.9 million. This calculates to an annual payment of $461,741 and ultimately results in a decrease in overall district expenses by more than $800,000.
Superintendent Michael Brooks said the budget process for the following year actually starts, “with putting numbers on paper” in November. He said everything in the budget for next year, “is academically warranted; from an educational perspective they are solidly founded and from a philosophical perspective they’re in the right direction; adding technology related classwork and physical fitness connections. We need kids to be more physically active.”
Brooks said the maintenance and food side of the budget services the students and the maintenance personnel, “keep our buildings in tip-top shape. They are all smart positions to put in.”
Brooks promises the district will be closely monitoring their finances moving forward.
“We’ll make sure we manage it very tightly and keep our ship in a good direction,” he said.
Brooks noted that the addition of a .4 Physical Education teacher in the Elementary School will bring the district into compliance.
Brooks said he has fielded a lot of questions from the public on the Vision 2020 Capital Project. He said they mostly wants to know, “what is it you’re looking to do, how much is it going to cost and is it going to be a tax burden on me.”
An Open House is scheduled for May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Middle School.
“The public is welcome to come in, they can see the space and we’ll walk through the buildings and let them take a look at things,” he said.
Brooks said the Vision 2020 project will provide the opportunity to fix the facilities across the district, “from a safety and security perspective, from an art and music perspective, from a technology/education perspective, from physical education and athletics; we’re hitting so many areas for only $19.5 million.”
Brooks said the CEO of Danskammer has informally promised to pay for a substantial portion of the public’s annual cost for the project if the new proposed power plant is approved and built.
Brooks said the adoption of a school budget, “is not an event, it’s a process. It really does take a chain of events to where you get to tonight. It’s an important process and you can’t predict the outcome when you start.”