Residents will be voting on the following two issues between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in the Johnstown High School Auditorium Lobby:
- A proposed $35,750,076 budget for the 2018-2019 school year. The proposed budget calls for a 5.46% spending increase over this year’s operating budget. The projected tax levy would increase by $406,561 (4.9%). A PDF of the 2018-19 budget document is available to print using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader Program.
- To elect three members to the Board of Education, for three-year terms to begin on July 1, 2018. In addition to voting on the 2018-19 school budget, voters will also elect three district residents to serve on our school’s nine-member Board of Education. The successful candidates will serve three year terms, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. The following individuals have submitted nominating petitions to place their names on the ballot: Kathryn Zajicek, Ronald Beck and Susanne Fitzgerald.
To learn more about the proposed budget, community members are encouraged to attend the Public Budget Hearing in the Johnstown High School Lecture Hall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
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. on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
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 1. 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 8. The last day for absentee ballots to be picked up by voters in person is May 14. Absentee ballots must be turned in to the District Clerk by 5 p.m. on May 15 in order to be counted.
What is a local tax levy?
A tax levy is the total local tax bill to be split among all of the taxpayers in the district.
Our proposed tax levy for 2018-2019 is $8,703,723. This total represents a 4.9% increase from 2017-18.
Does the budget meet the state’s tax-levy limit?
Each district’s tax cap is calculated based upon a complex formula that is provided by New York State.
This year, the district received aid (money from the state) to start payments on the capital project. These funds arrived ahead of the capital project payments. While this funding must be used to make capital project payments, the tax cap formula does not take this into consideration. The formula simply indicates that we have increased revenue (income) and assumes it can be used to cover any expenses. This has resulted in a tax cap calculation of negative 2.5%.
The proposed 4.9% increase to our tax levy exceeds the calculated negative tax cap and will require voter approval by a 60% supermajority.
Exceeding the tax levy limit will prevent district residents from receiving the property tax relief credit that is issued to qualifying homeowners in the form of a check from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.
Why is the district proposing a 4.9% tax levy increase?
Slow growth in tax increases and slow gains in NYS aid have brought us here.
In addition to local taxpayer contributions, school districts receive revenue (income) in the form of NYS foundation aid. Increases to Johnstown’s foundation aid have ranged between 0% and 3% annually over the past 10 years.
During this same time period, school district expenses have increased each year by approximately 5%. This is mainly due to required mandates. To fill the resulting budget gap between revenue and expenses, Johnstown has used its savings (fund balance), which is now nearing depletion.
To achieve balance going forward, the district must reduce operational and instructional costs, while also creating revenue. Reducing costs alone, or increasing revenue alone, will not take us where we need to go.
The district is therefore proposing a moderate tax levy increase, coupled with limiting expenses through conservative spending and reducing costs where possible, as part of a five-year forecast to help bridge the budget gap.
What costs are increasing for 2018-19?
Reimbursable Costs are projected to increase by $828,744. These include expenses related to the building project, student transportation, shared services through HFM BOCES, and PTECH. A portion of these costs are reimbursed to our district each year.
The cost of operating our district and employing people is projected to increase by $1,021,368. The increase in health insurance costs alone are projected to be over $1 million. This increase is being partially offset by reductions in other areas.
What has the district done to reduce expenses?
Approximately $1 million in reductions and eliminations have been made that affect programs, staff and operational expenses. These reductions include:
- Staffing reductions, including teachers, clerical workers, building support staff, business office staff, and administrators;
- Consolidation of some sports teams within the district and mergers of some sports teams with other districts;
- Reductions in supply purchases and overtime hours; Elimination of transportation service for pre-k; elimination of non-essential equipment purchases; and elimination of sports programs with very low enrollment.
Why is the District spending money on a building project instead of on staff?
The capital project that is underway was approved by voters in December of 2014.
The district receives reimbursement for building projects out of a “bucket” of funds that NYS has set aside specifically for building projects. Those funds cannot be accessed for other uses,
such as staffing or equipment.
State funding for other education costs comes out of a separate “bucket” of state funds that have been earmarked for education. Districts cannot move capital project aid into this “bucket” to use for staff or operational costs.
How much will taxes increase?
The final tax rate increase (used to calculate tax bills) will vary for each municipality depending on equalization rates and assessments and will be determined in August.
Estimated projections for school tax rates are as follows:
- City of Johnstown, $15.32 per $1,000 of assessed value;
- Town of Johnstown, $21.88 per $1,000 of assessed value;
- Town of Ephratah, $20.70 per $1,000 of assessed value;
- Town of Palatine, $26.41 per $1,000 of assessed value;
- City of Gloversville, $15.32 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The estimated projections as set forth above do not include adjustments for Basic or Enhanced STAR. If you are eligible for those programs, your tax bill and increase could be lower than what may be calculated using the tax rates provided above.
How do Johnstown’s local taxes compare to other districts?
On average, local taxpayer contributions (the tax levy) account for 50% of a school district’s income in NYS. However, in the Greater Johnstown School District, local taxpayer contributions (the tax levy) will provide approximately 26% of the district’s total budget with the proposed increase.
Johnstown’s smaller than average tax levy is the result of incremental tax increases between 0% and 3% annually over the past decade.
Does the Johnstown Public Library vote affect the school district budget?
The Johnstown Public Library has submitted a petition to the school district pursuant to NYS Education Law Section 259 to become a School District Public Library. The library is seeking financial support by means of a separate library tax to be assessed to all property taxpayers within the boundaries of the Greater Johnstown School District.
A separate vote for the library proposition will be held at the Johnstown Public Library at 38 S. Market Street on June 5, 2018. All qualified and registered Greater Johnstown School District voters may participate in the June 5, 2018 library vote.
Key points about the Johnstown Library vote:
- The library WILL NOT become part of the school district.
- The school district budget WILL NOT support the library.
- The library’s assets will remain COMPLETELY SEPARATE from the school district.
- The library tax WILL appear on the school tax bill.
- The school district WILL collect the library tax and pass the funds directly to the library.
- The library proposition is unrelated to the school district budget and tax levy.
What happens if voters don’t approve the 2018-19 budget?
If the proposed budget is not approved with a 60% supermajority, a re-vote may occur on June 19. If the revote is turned down, then a contingency budget would be adopted.
What is a contingency budget?
A contingency budget would require the district to limit the tax levy to the prior year’s amount. This would require an additional $400,000 in reductions beyond the $1 million in reductions that have already been made.
What would stay?
A contingency budget would allow for minimum expenses required to operate instructional programs, maintain buildings and property, ensure health and safety of staff and students, and fulfill existing contracts and leases. The Board of Education would determine transportation per-mile limits, and which athletics offerings and extracurriculars would remain.
What would go?
The required additional reductions of $400,000 would have a significant effect on educational programming for students.
In addition, a contingency budget DOES NOT allow for new equipment purchases, new contracts or leases, salary increases for certain employees not covered by contracts with labor unions, student supplies, or computer hardware purchases beyond the amount covered by state aid.