Budget Questions and Answers
May 5, 2016
What is the budget
proposal for next year?
On Tuesday, May 17, Stillwater Central School District residents
will vote on a proposed $23,989,459 budget for the 2016-17 school
year. This proposal preserves all of the district’s existing programs.
If voters approve the spending plan, the projected tax levy—the
total amount of money a school district can raise through property
taxes—would increase by 4.81 percent. This increase is below
Stillwater’s maximum allowable tax levy increase as determined by the
state’s tax levy cap formula.
Spending under the proposal would increase by 1.17 percent over the
current-year budget. District officials estimate that the school tax
rates, which are the amount of tax residents pay per $1,000 of
assessed property value, will increase by 2 percent or less due to
growth in the district’s overall property assessments. Final school
tax rates are set in August.
What's different in
the proposed budget?
The 2016-17 budget proposal increases spending by $277,038, or 1.17
percent, over the current budget. Much of that increase is driven by
rising costs associated with employee pensions and benefits, as well
as state and federal mandated programs and services, such as special
education and the transition to the Common Core Learning Standards.
The proposed budget also includes increasing an existing part-time
business teacher position to full time. This teacher will work with
special education students and focus on career development.
How would the proposed budget affect my taxes?
While the tax levy would go up by $449,988 next year, total property
assessments within the district are also growing, meaning there are
more properties across which to distribute the tax levy. Some of the
increase in tax revenues will be generated from this assessment
Actual tax rates are set in August. These rates are based on final
property assessments (provided by each town) and equalization rates
for each town, which are provided by the state Office of Real Property
Services. However, the school district has estimated the tax rates for
each of the four towns within the district based on the information
known at this time. The chart above shows the estimated tax rate that
a property owner would pay per $1,000 of assessed value. The chart
reflects the anticipated growth in property assessments and thus shows
that tax rates may increase by less than 2 percent for some towns.
Please note these are only estimates and may differ from the final tax
rates set in August.
Per $1,000 Assessed Value
Per $1,000 Assessed Value
Per $1,000 Assessed Value
*The tax rates and increases for next year are only
estimated tax rates and increases do not reflect any STAR
or other tax exemptions that may reduce individual tax
bills. This chart reflects the anticipated growth in
property assessments and thus shows that tax rates may
increase by less than 2 percent for some towns.
How does the
GlobalFoundries PILOT affect the district’s budget?
The GlobalFoundries PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) is beneficial for
Stillwater CSD because, unlike state aid, a PILOT guarantees an amount
of revenue for the district for each year under the terms of the
agreement. This year the district is expected to receive $2,397,000.
What is a fund balance
and how does it impact the budget?
A fund balance is created when a district is able to generate a
surplus by receiving more revenue than expected and/or by spending
less than the amount budgeted. As part of the proposed 2016-17 budget,
Stillwater is planning to allocate $495,665 from its unrestricted fund
balance to help mitigate the tax impact on district residents in the
It is important to note that fund balances can eventually level off or
even run out—they are not a guaranteed portion of any school
district’s budget. As such, the use of fund balance is not a reliable
long-term solution to support school funding or to lower taxes.
The Stillwater Free Library funding will be on the ballot this
year. Does this mean the library will be run by the board of
No. The Stillwater Free Library will not be governed by the Board of
Education. The library will have the same service boundary as the
school district and school district voters will vote on the library
budget and trustees directly. The school district will levy and
collect an additional tax if approved by the voters and then it will
forward the money to the library.
How will voting this year be different than in the past?
Rather than using a traditional levered machine to vote on the
Stillwater proposed 2016-17 school budget, voters will instead fill
out paper ballots at privacy stations and then feed their ballots into
an optical scanner that will read and store their votes.
The district is making the move after the expiration of a New York
state waiver allowing school districts to use the levered voting
machines. Surrounding counties have also switched to the optical
What happens if the
budget proposal is not approved?
Under New York state law, if the proposed budget is defeated by
voters, the Board of Education has three options: present the same
budget to voters a second time, present a revised budget to voters or
adopt a contingent budget. If the budget is defeated a second time,
the board must adopt a contingent budget.
With the tax levy cap law in effect, the rules for a contingent budget
state that a district can levy a tax no greater than that of the prior
budget year—a zero percent increase. In other words, Stillwater would
have to eliminate the $449,988 tax levy increase included in the
current budget proposal by finding additional revenues, making
additional reductions and/or by allocating more fund balance.
What else will be on
the ballot on May 17?
On May 17, there will be two propositions on the ballot related to
maintenance improvement. The first will be to establish a capital
reserve fund of $100,000 to cover the cost of repairs to the HVAC
systems and electrical and plumbing equipment at the elementary
school, middle school and transportation building.
The second proposition will be to expend the $100,000 in the capital
reserve fund. This project is a continuation of the district’s
long-range plan to improve and maintain its facilities.
The district would receive state aid reimbursement for nearly 85
percent of the cost of the project.
There are three (3) open seats on the Board of Education. The
candidates receiving the highest number of votes will be elected to
the Board of Education for three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2016
and ending June 30, 2019.
The candidates are:
Valerie Masterson (incumbent)
Stillwater Free Library
New to the ballot this year, residents will vote on a separate
proposition to fund the Stillwater Free Library for $222,495. Under
State Education Law, funding for the library is collected by the
school district and then forwarded to the library. Voters will also
vote on nine library trustees.
For more information, visit the Stillwater Free Library website at
When and where do I
vote on the 2016-17 school budget?
Residents can vote on the school district budget on Tuesday, May 17,
2016. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in the old Stillwater
Middle School Gym.