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A Look At How Mount Pleasant’s School Bond Will Affect Taxpayers

Westlake Middle School's existing entrance would be renovated under the bond proposal.
Westlake Middle School's existing entrance would be renovated under the bond proposal. Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- The Mount Pleasant School District is asking taxpayers to fund major renovations in the district, especially at the Westlake High/Middle campus which hasn’t seen significant upgrades since the facilities were built in the 1960s and 1970s.

“When we looked at how this could be financially structured, the committee was very conscious of how this would impact the taxpayers,” said Superintendent of Schools Susan Guiney.

Based on suggestions from the district’s Facilities Steering Committee, the Mount Pleasant Board of Education unanimously approved a bond package for $55.8 million to put before voters on Nov 15.

Click here for a full overview of work included in the bond.

The proposed bond would cost the average home in Mount Pleasant assessed at $8,300 about $540 annually, which would be phased in over the next three years.

There would be no affect in 15-16 school year. The bond would cost the average assessed home an additional $226.18 in 2016-17, and an additional $314.14 in 17-18. After those increases, the existing tax rate would pay for the bond over the next 27 years.

However, tax increases from the bond could drop off in 2025, since the district would finish paying debt owed on tax certiorari settlements and improvements at Hawthorne and Columbus schools.

These figures assume that the district will be awarded a 36.9 percent building aid ratio by New York State in future years. Though the level of state aid can vary from year to year, Mount Pleasant School Board President James Grieco said he doesn’t expect the level to change much from the current allotment awarded to the district.

Another factor that could affect Mount Pleasant’s tax levy is the town’s assessment role. Grieco said further tax relief could be found in assessment changes, including the EF Academy’s takeover of a previously tax exempt property.

According to Grieco, the tax increases associated with the bond would still be under New York’s tax cap, making taxpayers eligible for a full rebate of any school district tax increases in 2015-16.

Some argue that the cost is just too great for taxpayers to burden , and that the current proposal is too lavish.

Grieco argues that making improvements outside the bond, some of which are needed to bring the facilities up to legal code, would end up leading to higher tax rates in the future, a loss of tax cap rebates and loss of current low constructions costs.

Check back with Daily Voice for more on Mount Pleasant's 2014 bond vote.

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