The Bemus Point Central School District is in the preliminary stages of planning a two-part, $16.4 million capital project proposal.
On Friday, the district hosted the final information session in a three-part series to discuss the project at length with members of the community, as well as receive feedback.
The information was presented by Michael Mansfield, district superintendent, with input from Charity Mucha, business manager, and representatives from Clark Patterson Lee, the district's architectural firm. As it stands, the project is divided into two separate propositions and addresses needs in the bus garage, elementary school and Maple Grove Jr.-Sr. High School buildings.
"When we started looking at this project several months ago, there were several items that kind of moved us toward doing this," Mansfield said. "There's health and safety measures that we feel we should take, there's a great deal of maintenance coming up that we need to take care of and thought it would be best to do it in a project, there's some renovations that we feel are very important and needed and then there's some financial considerations, as well, in terms of the timing of the project.
"We are coming to the end of the payment on the last major projects that happened in 1994 and 1999," he added. "The debt is coming off of those, so we now have the ability to do a substantial project without increasing the local tax levy in the budget. So that's a timing issue and, at this point, this is a good time to do that."
The first part of the project, referred to as "Proposition One," entails numerous modifications to each of the three district buildings within the areas of health and safety, renovations and maintenance. Proposition One is estimated to cost a total of $8.4 million, and is said to result in no tax increase. This will be possible by replacing the expiring debt from the aforementioned previous capital projects.
The second part of the project, Proposition Two, will only involve the Maple Grove and elementary school buildings - with the biggest overhaul being in the form of an upgrade to the entire lockdown access security system. Proposition Two is estimated to cost slightly more than $8 million, with the borrowing of the money taking place during the 2015-16 school year and the first payment budgeted for 2016-17. The 2016-17 budget then would reflect an estimated local share of $225,000, and an estimated tax levy increase of 2.86 percent, or 42 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
Mansfield addressed confusion over how the $225,000 local share correlates to no tax increase in Proposition One, but a 2.86 percent increase on the less costly Proposition Two.
"It's not an either-or situation," Mansfield said. "Proposition One stands alone. That has to pass before you even talk about Proposition Two, which is in addition to (Proposition One). So in the vote, when we set this up and have the propositions out, you have to vote on both. If you didn't want either, you have to vote no for Proposition One and no for Proposition Two or your ballot doesn't count. If they're both approved, then we can plan the money and projects accordingly."
Mucha provided further clarification on the hypothetically approved project's ensuing tax levy increase.
"If Proposition One does not pass, that $225,000 local share does affect the tax levy limit calculation," she said. "So we would have a negative tax impact on that - which means then we are limited in our tax increase, or we would then have to have a decrease, or we would be subject to the 60 percent supermajority vote. So, if we don't do this project and maintain that level, it will affect that tax levy limit calculation - which then does mean, when we vote, we would have to return that money to the taxpayers."
The district's Board of Education will hold its next meeting on Oct. 7, where it will determine the final scope of the project. Currently, the cost and final scope of the project are scheduled for board approval during a special meeting on Oct. 21. A series of public meetings to inform community members of the final project details will be held sometime in November. The community vote, along with a special district meeting, is scheduled for Dec. 12.
For information regarding the proposed project, visit the district website at www.bemusptcsd.org and click the "Capital Project" tab. Provided there is the slideshow presented at each of the information sessions, the project scope- complete with specific modifications to each building - and the project timeline.