2020-21 Budget Questions & Answers

Q: What is the budget proposal for next year?

A: On Tuesday, June 9, North Colonie Central School District residents will vote via absentee ballot on a $117,979,501 budget proposal for the 2020-21 school year. As per the Governor’s executive order, all voting for the school budget and school board election on June 9 must be done via absentee ballot. This year’s budget maintains all programs and services, while providing a 0.9% estimated tax rate decrease for the community.

Q: How would the proposed budget affect my taxes? Is it within the cap?

A: The proposed tax levy increase of 0.47% is within the tax levy limit that is calculated for 2020-21 through a prescribed state formula. As a result, the budget requires the support of a simple majority (50% + 1) of voters to be approved.

While the final tax rates for 2020-21 cannot be determined until the summer when final assessments are available, the district estimates a tax bill decrease of $41 (exclusive of STAR) for median taxable assessed home $172,000 ($300,000 market value).

Q: Are there any staff cuts in the proposed budget?

A: No, there are no staff cuts in the proposed budget.

Q: Are there any program cuts in the proposed budget?

A: No, there are no program cuts in the proposed budget.

Q: What is the difference between the tax levy and tax rate?

A: The tax levy is the total amount of money a school district raises in taxes each year from all property owners in the district.

Tax rates are calculated by dividing the total amount of the levy by the total taxable assessed value in a community. Tax rates are affected by changes in both municipal assessments and state equalization rates, which are determined in the summer. The tax rate is used to calculate each individual property tax bill.

Q: What happens if the budget is defeated?

A: Under New York state law, if the school budget is defeated, the board of education typically has two options: put the same or a modified budget up for another vote on the third Tuesday in June, or immediately adopt a contingent budget. If residents defeat the proposed budget during a second vote, the board must adopt a contingent budget. However, given the delay in this year’s initial vote to June 9, the date in law for a revote of June 16 would not be possible. The district is awaiting guidance on what options may be available in the event that a revote is necessary.

Q: What is the “Pandemic Adjustment”?

A: In an effort to deal with the financial challenges brought on by COVID-19, this year’s state budget includes a state aid reduction for all public schools, the “Pandemic Adjustment,” that totals $1.1 billion statewide. This is entirely backfilled for each district by federal stimulus funds for 2020-21. While the federal stimulus offers relief this year, it remains to be seen if and how this will be applied to state funding in future years. The North Colonie Pandemic Adjustment for the upcoming school year is $538,854.

Q: What are the “look back periods” in the Enacted Budget and how might they affect schools?

A: The Enacted Budget authorizes the state to review its revenue and expenses on an ongoing basis so it can determine its financial state. The year will be divided into three measurement periods: April 1 – April 30, May 1 – June 30 and July 1 – December 31. If the state’s revenues within these “look back periods” is less than 99 percent of the projected revenue, or its expenditures are more than 101 percent of projections, the state Division of Budget can reduce aid for schools and local governments. According to language in the budget, school districts that have their aid reduced may be repaid at a later date.

Q: How can I vote in the school budget and board election?

A: This year’s budget vote and board election will take place via absentee ballot. Qualified voters on the most recent years’ school district poll list will be automatically sent an absentee ballot. Anyone who meets the definition of a “qualified voter” but does not believe they will be on the school district’s poll list (which includes names of residents who voted in a school election within the past five years), please contact District Clerk Jane Dawson by email at DistrictClerk@ncolonie.org or by calling (518) 785-8591, ext. 3126 as soon as possible to ensure timely receipt of an absentee ballot for the 2020 school election.

Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the district by June 9 at 5 p.m. in order to be counted. Residents can return them by mail or drop them off at the ballot return box outside of district offices at 91 Fiddlers Lane.