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November 20, 2017
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Stillwater News

Stillwater CSD’s efficiency plan gets ‘thumbs up’; Residents eligible for tax rebate

Oct. 27, 2015 — The New York State Department of the Budget recently approved Stillwater Central School District’s efficiency plan, which means that local school district residents may be eligible for a property tax rebate check from the state.

This is the second and final year during which New York taxpayers in eligible school districts can receive a “property tax freeze credit” or rebate check for the increase in their local school taxes. The approved efficiency plan was just one piece of the rebate equation. Stillwater CSD also stayed within its 2015-16 tax levy cap in order for homeowners to be eligible.

The district had to demonstrate its efficiency and anticipate costs savings in each of the next three school years for the plan to be approved by the state.

For example, Stillwater entered into a power production agreement with a local solar power company in the summer of 2013 to install solar panels on the roofs at the elementary school, the high school new gym, the middle school cafeteria and the bus garage. For the first year of the program—the 2014-15 school year—the district avoided spending $5,611 in energy costs.

The district also worked to bring a handful of special education services back to the district, which reduced costs by about $430,000 in the 2012-13 school year, the first year the in-house programs began. In 2015, Stillwater CSD joined the Educational Data cooperative, which provides lower prices than state contract prices on many office supplies. Additionally, the district left some positions unfilled when vacancies occurred.

“None of these cost saving measures had been done in anticipation of this efficiency plan. The district has been doing this all along,” said Stillwater CSD Business Administrator Mark Methe. “Our philosophy has always been to provide the best programs for our students while minimizing costs.”

Stillwater CSD has instituted additional cost-savings strategies during the years, but those actions were not eligible to be considered for the efficiency plan because they did not realize a cost savings within the specified time period. Prior to July 2012, the district went through the process of obtaining a bond rating from Standard & Poors. Stillwater CSD received an AA- rating, which allowed the district to save $50,000 in bond insurance costs. Additionally, this rating helped the district save an estimated 1 percent in interest rates on $23,000,000 in bonds. The AA- rating was reaffirmed in May 2015.

School tax rebate checks for 2014 were issued in late October, but the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has not yet confirmed when the rebates will be sent out this year. Download the Property Tax Freeze Credit Fact Sheet (PDF) for more information

Read more articles about past savings measures:
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