Budget Vote & Board Elections Tues., May 16

Residents will be voting on the following two issues between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in the JHS Auditorium Lobby:

  • A proposed $33,899,964 budget for the 2017-2018 school year that calls for a 1.62% spending increase over this year’s budget. The projected tax levy would increase by $280,580(3.5%) for a total levy of $8,297,162. A copy of the 2017-18 budget document is available here.
  • To elect three members to the Board of Education, for three-year terms to begin on July 1, 2017. Two candidates (City of Johnstown resident Evamarie Mraz and Town of Ephratah resident Beverly Alves) filed petitions to appear on the May 16 ballot. Ballots will also have a blank space for each vacancy to be filled and voters may write-in the names of candidates who are not listed on the ballot. The qualified residents receiving the most votes will fill the three seats.

To learn more about the proposed budget, community members are encouraged to attend a public budget hearing in the Johnstown High School Lecture Hall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where do I vote?
All residents of the Greater Johnstown School District vote at the Johnstown High School Auditorium Lobby. Polls will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Who is eligible to vote?
You may vote if you:

  • are at least 18 years old and
  • are a US Citizen and
  • have been a resident of the Greater Johnstown School District for the past 30 days and
  • are a registered voter

How do I register to vote?
Check your school voter registration status here. Residents who need to register may do so at the Johnstown High School Auditorium Lobby between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2. They may also register to vote at the County Board of Elections.

Can I Apply for an Absentee Ballot?
Voters who are registered with the County Board of Elections as permanently disabled will automatically be mailed an absentee ballot. Any other qualified voter who will be unable to vote in person due to illness, physical disability, hospitalization, incarceration (unless incarcerated for conviction of a felony), travel outside the county of residence for business, studies or vacation must submit an absentee ballot application to the District Clerk’s Office prior to receiving an absentee ballot. The last day for absentee ballots to be mailed to voters is May 9. The last day for absentee ballots to be picked up by voters in person is May 15. Absentee ballots must be turned in to the District Clerk by 5 p.m. on May 16 in order to be counted.

Does the budget meet the state’s tax-levy limit?
Yes.
Although commonly referred to as a “2 percent tax cap,” the law does not restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent. The 2 percent figure is one part of an 8-step formula put in place by NYS to calculate the individual “tax levy limit.” For Johnstown, the calculated 2017-18 tax levy limit is 6.2 percent and the district’s proposed budget calls for a 3.5 percent tax levy increase, within the limit.

What is a local tax levy?
The local tax levy is the total amount of money collected from local taxes. Our local tax levy is approximately $8 million dollars. This total $8M dollar levy is split up among all of the tax payers in the district. Johnstown relies more heavily on state and federal aid and less on taxpayer support than other area districts, based on most recent NYS Property Tax Report Card data.

Why is the district proposing a 3.5% tax levy increase?
Like many other districts, Johnstown needs to eliminate the gap between budgeted expenses and anticipated revenue. Currently, Johnstown has $2,568,265 million more in anticipated costs than we expect in income (revenue).

To address this $2.6M gap in a single year using just expense reductions would mean that approximately 30 teaching positions would have to be cut. To address the $2.6M gap in a single year using just a tax increase would take a 32.5% tax levy increase (a 1% tax levy increase generates about $80,000 in revenue). Neither of these options is feasible.

The district proposes to continue to limit expenses through conservative spending, reducing costs where possible, and to maximize state and federal funds to their greatest extent. Should state or federal aid increase, these additional funds will be applied to the $2.6 million gap.

What has the district done to reduce expenses?
Health insurance shifts were negotiated with district employees and an energy conservation plan has been put in place. The district is also utilizing shared services through BOCES where possible. Some reductions in staffing were made at the end of the last school year, including the excision of seven teaching positions. Despite these reductions, the district continues to maintain average class sizes and advanced-level high school academic programs.

How much will taxes increase?
While Johnstown’s proposed budget calls for a 3.5 percent increase in the tax levy, this does not mean tax bills would increase by 3.5 percent.  Tax rates vary from one municipality to another based on equalization rates and assessed property values. So where you live, and the assessed value of your home, determines how much your tax increase would be. Tax rates are not set until late summer, however, estimated projections are as follows:

If you live in: You paid this much per $1,000 of assessed value in 2016-2017: It is projected you would pay this much per $1,000 of assessed value in 2017-18
Johnstown (City) $14.48 $14.99
Johnstown (Town) $19.31 $19.98
Ephratah $18.10 $18.73
Palatine $25.86 $26.76
Gloversville (City) $14.48 $14.99

Why aren’t the tax rates set until late summer?
The tax rates cannot be set until late summer, because:

  • The five taxing jurisdictions within the district each compute assessment values for properties within their borders. Residents have the right to challenge those assessments. Final assessment rolls are completed by July 1, after those cases are settled.
  • Each July, the New York State Office of Real Property Services develops equalization rates to assure equitable allocation of property taxes among jurisdictions within the district.

Is the planned concession stand & restroom facility at Knox Field part of the 2017-18 budget vote?
No. The concession stand and restroom facility at Knox were included in the capital project vote that took place on December 9, 2014. More information is available here: A conversation about the planned concession stand and restrooms.

What happens if voters don’t approve the 2017-18 budget?
Under state law, school boards may submit a budget to voters a maximum of two times. If a majority of residents vote no on the proposed budget on May 16, the Board of Education may put up the same or a revised budget for a second vote, or adopt a contingency budget. If voters reject the proposed budget for the second time, the Board of Education must adopt a contingency budget. Under the state’s tax levy limit law, a contingency budget must include the same tax levy as the prior year, for a zero percent tax levy increase.

The school district’s contingency budget for the 2017-18 school year is based on eliminating spending for certain supplies and equipment, and also eliminating all community use of school buildings that would incur district expense. A review of all programs and activities would be conducted and all equipment purchases, in addition to some positions and/or programs, would be reduced or eliminated by the Board of Education if the district must adopt a contingency budget.

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