BALLSTON SPA – Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent Joseph Dragone reviewed the proposed 2017-18 school budget
during a brief public hearing on Wednesday ahead of the May 16 Board of Education elections and budget vote.
The Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the district’s proposed $90.34 million 2017-18 school budget during the April 12 meeting. The proposed budget represents a 2.1 percent increase over the current year’s budget.
The budget calls for a 2.9 percent tax levy increase to a total of $48.99 million. The impact from the tax levy would cause an average tax rate increase of 0.6 percent. The district estimates that residents would pay an additional $22 in property taxes for a home with an assessed property value of $225,000. The final tax rates are set in August.
In addition to the tax levy, the balance of the budget will be made up of $29.55 million in state aid, $1 million from the district’s fund balance and $10.8 million from other sources such as Payment In Lieu of Tax Agreements and reimbursements from programs.
The budget maintains or enhances programs and staff at their current levels. Several positions that were left vacant for budgetary reasons following staff retirements will be restored, including one full-time orchestra teacher, one high school technology teacher and three instructional teacher leader positions. The budget also calls for the addition of one part-time literacy position at the middle school.
Other factors driving the budget increase include a $1.19 million, or 8.7 percent, increase in the cost of health insurance to a total of $14.88 million and a $745,000 decrease in PILOT payments from the GlobalFoundries chip plant.
Wednesday’s public hearing concluded following Dragone’s budget overview without any questions or comments from the public. The district will offer two more budget presentations and answer questions from residents on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ballston Town Hall and May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Malta Community Center.
Dragone will also be available for an informal discussion with residents during a “Drop-In Session” on May 8 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the district office.
In addition to the budget, voters will be asked to consider a proposition authorizing the school district to purchase vehicles at a maximum cost of $907,000. The purchases would be made according to the district’s vehicle replacement schedule. There would be no tax impact in 2018 and 63 percent of the cost would be covered by state aid.
Vehicles to be purchased include five passenger buses, three small buses, one small wheelchair bus, one transportation service truck and one grounds and maintenance service truck.
The ballot will include two community propositions; one seeking a $55,650 contribution from residents to fund the operating expenses of the Ballston Spa Public Library and the other for a $30,000 contribution from residents to support the services of the Ballston Area Recreation Commission.
Finally, voters will elect three candidates to the Board of Education to fill two full term seats and one unexpired term seat. The two candidates receiving the most votes will hold the full-term seats for three years, while the candidate receiving the third highest number of votes will hold the unexpired term seat for one year.
The candidates include incumbent Jeanne Obermayer, board appointee Michael O’Donnell and newcomers Katie Thimineur and Lillian McCarthy.
The BSCSD Board of Education elections and budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 16. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.