Herkimer residents to vote May 16 on $24.4 million spending plan

Proposed tax levy below district’s tax cap

On Tuesday, May 16, Herkimer residents will vote on a $24,414,000 budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year. The budget calls for a 5.9 percent increase in spending compared with 2016-17 and carries a tax levy increase of 1.72 percent. Polls will be open to voters from 1 to 9 p.m. May 16 at the high school at 801 W. German St.

Because Herkimer’s proposed tax levy increase is below the maximum allowed for the district next year (1.74 percent), the budget will pass if a simple majority of voters (50 percent plus one) approves it, according to state law.

More information about budget development is available on the Budget & Taxes page. Voters can also learn more at a budget hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. May 9 in the high school cafeteria.

The proposed fiscal plan maintains existing programs and services for students. In addition, the plan would do the following:

At Herkimer Elementary School:

  • Expand pre-kindergarten to a full-day program
  • Introduce an English Language Learning at Herkimer Elementary School
  • Offer after-school swim instruction for third-graders
  • Open STEM clubs up to more students
  • Increase part-time music instruction to full-time

At Herkimer Jr./Sr. High School:

  • Add a Coding and Computer Science course
  • Restore two previously cut full-time staff positions: one Academic Intervention Specialist teacher and one school counselor/social worker
  • Open up P-TECH and Project Lead the Way to more students

Districtwide:

  • Re-establish a partnership with the county for peer mediation and prevention services
  • Restore cheerleading if student and staff interest supports it
  • Establish a school resource officer position
  • Restore full-time CSE chair position

The proposed budget would also replace six part-time cleaners with three full-time cleaners, and add a full-time custodian or maintenance mechanic to the district. The net cost of the staffing changes is $80,000. To offset some of the district’s cost increases, two administrative positions that are currently vacant are not funded in the budget.

The spending plan includes $100,000 to replace the filtration system and conduct additional renovations at the high school pool. After state aid, the district’s total local cost is expected to be about $9,000.

Among the largest projected increases for 2017-18 is an additional $688,000 in debt service payments as the district begins making payments on the $10.4 million capital project approved by voters in 2014.

Capital reserve

Voters will also consider a proposition to establish a capital reserve fund of up to $3,500,000 for a term of 10 years.

“Establishing a reserve fund would allow the district to make needed repairs and improvements to school facilities without increasing the tax burden on local residents,” Herkimer Superintendent of Schools Robert Miller said.

Revenue

Revenue for the district’s proposed spending plan comes from two primary sources: 60 percent from state aid and 36 percent from the local tax levy, which is the total amount of money the district will collect from local property owners. Other smaller sources of revenue include payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) agreements and non-resident student tuition payments (2 percent). The district also has proposed the use of $250,000 of fund balance (1 percent).

Board of Education

Residents also will elect two members to the board of education. The terms of board of education members Kenneth Brinck and Diann Fischer will expire June 30, 2017. Fischer filed a nominating petition to seek re-election. Scott Petucci also filed a nominating petition for a seat on the board. Each open seat is for a three-year term expiring June 30, 2020.

Voters will also decide on the Frank J. Basloe Public Library’s proposed $305,264 annual budget, and elect one library trustee.