The Greater Johnstown School District is considering a capital project referendum for voter approval. Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about the proposal are posted below. Have a question about the capital project that isn’t answered here? Please contact us!
Why are we discussing a capital project?
While the district’s six buildings have been well cared for, we need to replace or upgrade systems that are not in working order or are coming to the end of their useful life. We also need to improve access for individuals with disabilities. When these repairs are included as part of a capital project, they are eligible for state aid and any remaining local costs are spread over 15 to 20 years. Without a capital project, repairs may still need to be made, but would have to be funded out of the budget, with no state aid for the work.
What would be the scope of a capital project?
No formal scope has been adopted by the Board of Education as of yet. However, many of the items under consideration are related to health, safety and accessibility, including building and classroom door security, roof replacement, electrical upgrades, bathrooms/fixtures, drop-off and pick-up configurations at buildings, lighting and HVAC. Additional areas under review include the aging JHS pool, JHS gymnasium, cafeteria/gym spaces, the track, and education spaces including music suites and art rooms.
How is the Board of Education identifying what to include in a capital project?
New York State requires a Building Condition Survey every five years and much of the project scope is being assembled based on the most recent BCS, from 2010. Additionally, a facilities committee composed of board members, administrators and buildings & grounds staff has conducted several on-site inspections, assisted by architects, to identify areas of concern. Administrators have also met with staff members to discuss their needs. All of the information collected has been compiled into a report that is being carefully reviewed.
What is the timeline for the capital project?
No formal date for a referendum has been chosen as of yet, but the Board of Education is exploring placing a proposition before the voters during the 2014-15 school year, with work to begin in 2016.
What is the total cost of the capital project that is under consideration?
The cost of the project is directly tied to the scope of the project, which is still under discussion. Initial estimates came in at $45.8 million dollars. However, the board is working to reduce this number by identifying high, medium and low priority work. We recognize the financial challenges our residents face and want to balance the recommended building repairs with financial reality.
How will the district pay for a capital project?
It is anticipated much of the funding will be provided by NYS in the form of building aid, currently estimated at 94.8% for Johnstown, with the remaining 5.2% being paid locally.
How will a capital project affect my taxes?
Our Board of Education members reside in the school district and are taxpayers just like you. They are seeking to keep any change in the tax levy low. While no firm figures are available at this time, as a point of reference, it is estimated that on a project of $22.2 million, the tax increase on a Johnstown home with a full value assessment of $100,000 would be $31.48 per year, less any applicable STAR exemptions.
What majority of voters is required to pass a capital project proposition in Johnstown?
This will be determined by the dollar amount of the proposition to be placed before the voters. If the cost of the capital project is below the district’s debt limit (5% of the average full value of last five years’ tax rolls), a simple majority of voters (50 percent plus one), will be necessary; if the cost of the capital project exceeds the district’s debt limit, a supermajority of voters (60 percent), will be required.
Where can I get more information about the project?
Community forums will be announced in the near future and will be open to anyone who wishes to attend. Updates regarding the capital project will also be posted to the school district website.