With the Dec. 14 vote date quickly approaching for the Hendrick Hudson School District’s bond referendum, the Hen Hud Board Of Education is preparing for a final public meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 7, to discuss the matters surrounding the bond.
Since the last public meeting the requested by the BOE to revitalize the district’s schools remains the same. But, because of the recent , whose redistribution of RESCO PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) payments is expected to increase revenues in the Hen Hud School District by $10.3 million by 2034, taxpayers would now be responsible for less of the bond costs than originally had been anticipated.
At first the district had planned to ask taxpayers to pay for more than $20 million of the $25 million dollar bond. With the additional funding from the RESCO agreement, the cost to taxpayers has dropped to $11,712,504, which would be paid back over the 20 years of the bond’s life. Residents will still be voting on whether or not to approve a $25 million bond, not an $11.7 million bond.
Should the bond be approved in a couple of weeks, the newly calculated tax cost for Peekskill residents would cost $49.59 in 2014, the first year of the bond’s repayment, and peak at $96.44 (down from $160) in 2016-2017. Town of Cortlandt residents would be looking at an increase of $95.33 in 2014, and a peak cost of $185.45. After the peak years the cost to taxpayers would decrease slightly each year as the bond’s principal is paid off.
The guidelines used to estimate these payments have taken into consideration medium sized houses with a value of $207,000 in Peekskill and a value of $440,000 in the Town of Cortlandt. In both areas the assessed value used to estimate tax costs was $7,700.
At an where the BOE unanimously approved the bond resolution, Superintendent of Business Enrique Catalan explained to the audience that the final bond amount requested by the BOE was to ensure that the proposed improvements could be carried out without the district having to seek additional funding for projects should the bond be approved, and promised that the total cost of the improvements “would not exceed” the amount sought by the board.
Still, even with a cap to the costs, for many members of the community the subject of the bond remains a controversial one, as residents continue to debate the necessity of the bond and the improvements it proposes.
The bond proposals are a result of the board’s Strategic Plan 2011-2016, which lays out a number of ambitious goals for the district including, but not limited to, the addition of science and technology classrooms and programs, a larger capacity performing arts center, security fencing, and three new athletic fields, two of which would be synthetic turf fields. Technology infrastructure throughout the district would also see improvements such as server room upgrades, cabling and electrical work, and network upgrades.
The BOE has repeatedly noted the incentives to act on the improvements at the present moment, despite what some have said are bad economic times to take on such projects.
At previous meetings BOE members have cited both the current low interest rates that would be applied to the bond, as well as the competitive bidding coming from contractors hoping to secure such a large scale project, as benefits for moving forward with construction in the coming year.
A mailer was recently sent to residences within the district which discussed the scope and costs of the bond. The information contained in this mailer is also accessible via the district’s website. There is also a “Q and A” section regarding the bond on the Hen Hud website which is being updated frequently.
Those residents who cannot attend the Dec. 14 vote and wish to receive an absentee ballot can download one off the website here, or call the District Clerk’s office at 914-257-5122. Absentee ballots must be returned to this office by mail no later than Dec. 7, 2011, or by Dec. 13, 2011 if being delivered in person.
The final public hearing before the bond vote will take place on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the
*Editor's note: This article has been adjusted to clarify that the RESCO agreement will provide the school district with new revenue in the form of PILOT payments. That new revenue will be designated to pay off the $25 million bond proposal. If the bond referendum is approved, residents' taxes would be increased to pay off the remainder of the bond, which is approximately $11.7 million over the next twenty years. Residents will still be voting on whether or not they approve the school district to issue a $25 million bond, not an $11.7 million bond.