Frequently Asked Questions – Granville CSD 2019 Capital Improvement Project Referendum
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.
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 85.7%, and the district pays the balance known as “Local Share”. Through this project, the District projects to receive $1,000,000 per year in additional state aid from 2022 to 2036 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).
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 85.7¢ 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.
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 $15,950,781. With use of $2,000,000 from our previously established Capital Reserve Fund combined with retired debt service from past capital projects, there is no NET tax increase for the proposed capital project.
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.
What is included and why is the project needed?
The proposed project includes replacements and improvements to aging building components, like roofs, masonry, and heating systems. Classrooms and shared spaces are scheduled to receive renovations and space re-allocation to take advantage of underutilized portions of the buildings, and further develop programs, like agriculture. Outside, the grounds will receive attention at deteriorated areas of sidewalks and paving, as well as a major reconstruction of the running track to improve track and field events and position the campus for future athletic field development.
The district’s Capital Reserve Funds and retired debt service allows an opportunity to present the proposed capital project at a time when the tax impact can be completely offset, resulting in no tax increase.
Over time, our facility needs will continue to grow, not diminish or go away. We don’t expect New York State’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.
What happens if the Capital Project is NOT Approved?
Costs could go up. The financing for this project will allow the Granville 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. Many items will continue to deteriorate leading to continued high maintenance costs and possibly heightened safety concerns.
Items paid for out of annual budget would generate NO State Building Aid (100% local share).
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.
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.
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 (the State Education Department 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 2020 summer construction season. The actual construction period is dependent on SED approval, but we are hopeful that it will begin in 2020 and be completed by the end of 2021.
Will this project complete our capital improvement needs?
Not indefinitely. Buildings and grounds 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 the State Education Department, 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.
Can we use Capital Reserves for anything else?
Capital Reserves may be established by voter approval to pay the cost of any object or purpose for which bonds may be issued. Voter approval is required to spend from a Capital Reserve. On May 9, 2016, the voters of the Granville CSD established a Capital Reserve Fund for the purpose of financing the construction of, and general improvements, reconstruction, renovations or additions to, the District’s buildings and grounds, including site work and the acquisition of original furnishings, equipment, machinery, technology or apparatus. The life of the Capital Reserve is ten (10) years.
Is all project scope listed in the information guaranteed to happen?
The district and its consultants intend to make every effort to deliver all scope listed as part of this referendum; unfortunately, because bidding and construction on a potential project would not happen for over a year, it is difficult to anticipate the exact bid market and what unexpected changes could happen to the cost of raw materials and therefore construction. The amount of available Contractors and labor force to carry out the construction is also difficult to anticipate ahead of time, which is also a factor that could influence cost.
What does it mean that the included project scope is prioritized?
Due to the potential for volatility when it comes to construction costs of a project that would not bid for over a year, we have elected to be very transparent in our handling of this potential project. Not knowing exactly how far each construction dollar will stretch, when a project is put out to bidders, has caused us to assign priorities to the included scope. These priorities are intended to let taxpayers know what Granville CSD intends to deliver, in order of importance, in the event that construction costs exceed the budget. Special care is expected to be taken in order to ensure that we receive the best value for each scope item, and address the most critical needs as a priority. The District and its consultants have assigned responsible budgets to the intended project scope, and remain optimistic that everything advertised will be delivered.