2020-21 Budget Information

By count of absentee ballots on June 16, 2020, Chatham Central School District voters approved the 2020-21 school budget, approved a proposition to allow the Board of Education to reduce its membership from nine to seven, and elected Matthew Fisch, Destiny Hallenbeck, and Patricia Wilson to the Board of Education.

Proposition I – Budget PASSED Yes: 1205 No: 569

Proposition II – Reduce Number of Board Members PASSED Yes: 1278 No: 453

2020-2021 Budget Overview

On May 19, the Board of Education adopted a proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year. The budget totals $32,356,855 and carries a projected tax levy increase of 1.67 percent, which is under the limit set by New York State’s property tax cap of 1.72 percent. Spending is up a total of $773,465, a 2.45 percent increase from the current year’s budget that is due largely to inflation, contractual obligations, and rising health insurance and retirement costs. The District used reserves and fund balance to reduce the impact of revenue shortfalls on the budget and to help hold the tax levy increase under the tax cap. Read more…

October 22, 2019

October 30, 2019

November 5, 2019

November 21, 2019

December 3, 2019

January 23, 2020

January 28, 2020

February 6, 2020

February 11, 2020

February 13, 2020

February 25, 2020

March 5, 2020

March 10, 2020

April 21, 2020

May 11, 2020

May 18, 2020

May 19, 2020

May 20, 2020

Board Meeting 6:00 pm (budget calendar adoption)

Finance Committee Meeting (contract negotiations review)

Board Meeting 6:00 pm

Finance Committee Meeting (financial reserve plan, preliminary phase 1s)

Board Meeting 6:00 pm (adopt financial reserve plan)

Finance Committee Meeting (state aid, ERS/TRS)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. (projected state aid)

Finance Committee Meeting (property tax cap, budget)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. (1st part of budget – admin & operations, prop. tax cap, phase 1’s)

Finance Committee Meeting (review budget updates)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. (2nd part of budget – instructional, library & cafeteria, phase 2’s)

Finance Committee Meeting (Review budget updates)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. (3rd part of budget – transportation & benefits)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. (State Aid & Draft Budget Update) – meeting via video conference

Last day to submit Board of Ed. candidate self nomination
Last day to submit petitions to have proposition placed on ballot

Finance Committee Meeting (Review Final Budget & Recommend)

Board Meeting 6:00 p.m. Adopt Proposed 2020-21 Budget – meeting via video conference

Voter Registration, 3:00-7:00 p.m. at MED Elementary School

Submission of Property Tax Report Card to NYSED

May 26, 2020

June 8, 2029

June 9, 2020

June 16, 2020

Annual Budget Hearing 6:00 p.m. – meeting via video conference
Copies of Budget and required attachments made available to public upon request. Deadline to request Absentee ballot by mail

Ballot Drop Off at MED Elementary School, 12:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Annual Budget Vote and Board Election – last day to return absentee ballot in person, no later than 5:00 p.m.
Ballot Drop Off at MED Elementary School, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Annual Budget Vote and Board Election  – All mailed ballots must be received by the Board Clark. Vote counted at 5:00 p.m.

Property Tax Cap Information

Contrary to popular belief, the NYS property tax cap does not cap tax increases at 2%. Instead, schools must use a state formula each year to determine how much they can increase their tax levies by without having to seek a higher percentage of voter approval for the budget. This threshold may be different each year and must be determined by the District and submitted to the state by March 1st.

For 2020, Chatham’s projected tax levy increase threshold is 1.72%.

If the year-to-year increase of the District’s tax levy (portion of the school budget funded by property tax) is at or below the number determined by the cap, a simple majority (50% + 1) of voter approval is needed to pass the budget. If the budget proposal carries a tax levy increase above the cap, a super majority (60%) of voter approval is needed for the budget to pass. More information on the NYS Property Tax Cap is available on the NY State Education Department Website.

Proposition II: Reduce Board Membership to Seven

Proposition II on the Ballot asked voters to decide on an initiative to reduce the Board of Education to seven members from its current nine, which voters approved. The Board will go to seven members starting with the 2021-22 school year. The change was proposed to reflect the District’s shrinking enrollment and because small communities are increasingly experiencing difficulties in attracting enough candidates to fill large Boards.

Building Access/Security System Upgrades

Included in the 2020-21 budget is a small capital project to enhance the door-access security system throughout the District. The project includes additional door contacts that alert the school to doors left open, additional blue lockdown warning lights on building exteriors, and additional PA speakers, and other safety features. Similar capital projects over the past three years replaced the swipe-card door access systems at the High School, Middle School, and Elementary School security system, and next year’s project would complete the upgrade, giving the District a fully integrated security access system that allows the District to immediately disable entry into the building in the event of a lockdown. The project would not exceed $100,000 and does not increase the 2020-22 budget because money for small annual capital projects was built into the budget in previous years. Because Chatham is entitled to 49.6 percent state aid on capital projects, the District would be reimbursed for approximately half of the cost of the project.

How is the District Using Reserves and Fund Balance?

As a general practice, Chatham uses reserve accounts and fund balance to reduce year-to-year tax levy increases. Use of reserves and fund balance are part of the District’s long-term fiscal plan to provide for the financial stability of the District. The District allocated $1,341,600 of fund balance to reduce the tax levy increase. Fund balance is a reserve much like a savings account. When District expenses are less than expected, or revenues are higher than projected, money remaining at the end of the year is held in the fund balance. The District utilizes fund balance each year as revenue in the budget to minimize spending cuts and minimize tax increases. In previous years, the District created voter-approved Capital Reserve Funds to pay for large-scale construction projects, which now help to pay for the current Capital Improvement Project voters approved in 2018. Along with using state building aid and fund balance as revenue, this allows the District to complete this project without the need to raise additional taxes.

How is the District Strengthening Services?

Assistant Principal – The District is replacing its dean of students position with an assistant principal position. In addition to the student discipline role provided by a dean, an assistant principal is, as a state-certified school building leader, able to provide a wide range of administrative services to support and improve school programs. Initiatives earmarked for this position include developing innovative instruction, student engagement, parent outreach, and supervision and evaluation of staff.

School Psychologist – The District is replacing a school counselor position with a school psychologist position. This change is being made to better align our social and emotional services with the increasing need for mental health support we are experiencing across our student population.

Network Engineer – The District is replacing a network aide position with a network engineer position. The network engineer will provide the district with an enhanced skill set that is increasingly needed to address our full range of technically advanced computer network needs.

What is a Tax Levy?

The tax levy is the portion of funding for the budget that is raised through local property taxes (other funding for the budget comes from revenues such as state aid, appropriated fund balance, interest income, tuition, medicaid reimbursements, etc.).

Is a Tax Rate the Same as a Tax Levy?

No, the tax rate is the result of dividing the annual tax levy by the total full assessed property values within the district.

Why do Tax Rates Differ From School District to School District?

Because communities differ across the map, comparing tax rates between school districts can be like comparing apples to oranges. Many factors influence the tax rate, the most important being property values within the district and the district’s tax levy, but other factors can also affect it.

To give you a basic idea of how it works, say two districts have the exact same tax levy, but one district has higher property values than the other. The district with the higher values would have a lower tax rate because the levy would equal a smaller percentage of the overall property value.

One district’s assessed property values (assessments are determined by town and state) could be comparably higher because it has more commercial properties and high-end homes, or fewer tax exemptions such as those offered to veterans, senior citizens, agriculture, and nonprofit entities, or a combination of both. Another district’s property values could be significantly lower because homes are worth less there and it has several tax exemptions in place. Tax levies also differ from district to district based on many factors, including the size of the school, what programs the school offers, the level of state aid the district receives, mandated special education requirements, costs associated with staffing, etc.

To learn more about property taxes, visit https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/learn/index.htm

Board of Education Election

Please visit our 2020 Board of Education Election page…

Voter Qualifications:

To be eligible to vote you must be:
• A citizen of the United States 18 years of age or older
• A resident of the Chatham Central School District for a period of 30 days or more directly preceding the date of the vote
• Registered to vote with either the School District or the Columbia County Board of Elections

Budget Information from Previous Years

2019-2020 Budget Information
2018-2019 Budget Information
2017-2018 Budget Information
2016-2017 Budget Information
2015-2016 Budget Information
2014-2015 Budget Information
2013-2014 Budget Information
2012-2013 Budget Information
2011-2012 Budget Information
2010-2011 Budget Information
2009-2010 Budget Information

Questions or comments about the budget?

Email them to budget@chatham.k12.ny.us