OVUU budget faces revote April 26
BY ANGELO LYNN
BRANDON — As the upcoming revote on the OVUU budget approaches — it’s next Tuesday, April 26 — OVUU residents can bone up on the facts ahead of a public informational meeting set for Monday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. The 2022-23 fiscal year budget, which was defeated the first time on Town Meeting Day, has been reduced by $5,000 and now stands at $22,705,955.
All OVUU district residents — comprised of Brandon, Pittsford, Goshen, Leicester, Whiting and Sudbury — will vote in-person at their town’s regular polling places on Tuesday, April 26. Voters also have the option of going into their respective town clerk’s office anytime between now and then to request a ballot and vote early if it’s not convenient to vote on April 26. Voters may also request an absentee ballot and mail it in as long as that’s done before April 26.
Driving the discussion on the budget are two seemingly conflicting points: first, the new budget proposal is up 7.8% over the previous year, yet the budget has a 5.5 cent decrease (4%) in the unified tax rate. That reduction in taxes actually brings the district tax rate back to pre-merger days six years ago.
Driving the budget increase is a new three-year master teachers’ contract that raises the wage grid by about 7% the first year and 3% the next two years. That agreement will bring RNESU’s teachers’ pay up to about the middle of the pack among eight regional schools, whereas today the wages are next to the bottom among those schools and administrators reported difficulty retaining teachers. Contracted salary and benefit increases make up about 80% of the district budget.
Other factors driving increased cost are higher levels of inflation on fuel and other commodities and inflationary expenses in general.
Importantly, said Superintendent Jeanné Collins, no new programs were added to this year’s budget from the current year.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
In reviewing the upcoming vote here are a few questions and answers that are pertinent to the upcoming vote:
Q: What are the main points in this budget?
A: This budget proposal is a 5.5 cent decrease (4%) in the unified tax rate, bringing the tax rate back to pre-merger rates.
Education Spending is up 9.7% due to the way the formula works. However, OVUUSD education spending is nearly $1,000 below the statewide average. Primary drivers in this budget are the inflation impact on utilities and fuel and contracted salary and benefit increases as this category is 80% of the budget.
Q: What is in the budget and what is the tax impact?
A: The new budget proposal is $22,705,955, which is an increase of 7.85%. The bulk of this increase is in the contracted salary and benefit line. Of note, the budget is primarily made up of staff, as we serve students; thus changes in the salary and benefits line would be most impacted.
Of note, the unified tax rate decreases by 5.5 cents. This rate is affected in each town by the Common Level of Appraisal, which is based on how recently homes were appraised. Thus some towns go up while most towns go down in taxes.
Q: How does my town grand list affect my school taxes?
A: The Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) is used to ensure property owners are paying equitable taxes across the state. If the properties in a town were undervalued, without a CLA correction, the residents would pay a lower tax compared to a neighboring town with more accurately assessed values.
The Tax Department determines the CLA by looking at recent sale prices and comparing these prices to the town’s appraised values. If the appraised values are lower than the sale prices the town’s grand list is considered undervalued and the CLA will be a percentage under 100%. Likewise, if the appraised values are higher than sale prices the town’s grand list is considered overvalued and the CLA will be over 100%.
CLA Homestead Tax Rate (Prior Yr CLA)
Current Rate Proposed Rate Difference
93.03% Brandon (98.56) $1.393 $1.416 $0.02
92.53% Goshen (93.38) $1.470 $1.424 $(0.05)
93.28% Leicester (96.90) $1.417 $1.412 $(0.00)
91.64% Pittsford (94.69) $1.450 $1.438 $(0.01)
103.53% Sudbury (109.40) $1.255 $1.273 $0.02
94.85% Whiting (105.29) $1.304 $1.389 $0.08
CLA: Common Level of Appraisal
Q: What schools are in OVUUSD?
A: OVUUSD serves Neshobe, Lothrop, Otter Creek Academy at Leicester and Whiting, and Otter Valley Middle & High School.