CAPITAL PROJECT FAQS
This capital projects proposal was developed with much thought and deliberation. In the fall of 2018, the Board of Education directed the Buildings & Grounds Committee, a group of school leaders, parents, and community members who have expertise in finance, construction, education and security, to create a plan that addresses the most pressing facilities needs in our district. This diverse group is also supported by the architectural firm Tetra Tech Architects &Engineers and the construction manager from The Palombo Group.
1. Why is the board proposing investment in our schools now?
The increased awareness about student safety in schools has prompted districts all over the country to review their campus security. This project will enable the district to address some issues in this regard. In addition, the infrastructure in some of our buildings is nearing the end of its useful life. Maintaining our buildings protects our taxpayers’ investment and helps make Mahopac a desirable place to live and raise families. It is also important to update some of our learning spaces, such as libraries, to better prepare our students to compete in today’s global economy.
2. Why schedule a bond referendum now?
The District has significant debt service being retired beginning in 2019. This creates an opportunity for the District to address major teaching, safety, security and infrastructure needs—as well as the educational and spatial needs at Mahopac Schools— with a new bond referendum that would be tax neutral. Approval of the project will result in projected new annual debt service being at or less than the current annual debt service being retired by the District.
3. Will New York State provide any financial support for this project?
The District is projecting that approximately 90% of all work proposed in the project scope will be eligible for
New York State aid, which, at 58.1% percent, means that about $28,000,000 of the cost is absorbed by the state.
4. Can’t the district just pay for the work on this project through its regular budget?
It would benefit the taxpayers to do this work through a capital project, rather than the annual budget process, to save taxpayers money in the long run. If the District does the work through a capital project, much of the scope is state aidable. However, if the work was paid for from the regular budget, the District would not receive aid.
Additionally, New York State limits the increase in the tax levy from one year’s budget to the next. Under that formula, it would be impossible to do even a portion of the work without either exceeding the tax cap (requiring 60% approval of the voters in the district) or slashing educational programs and services.
And importantly, it is fairer to bond for capital projects like this as the costs are absorbed by residents living in the community over a longer period of time. Payments for this project will be extended over 15 years.
5. I hear that some of the work will be maintenance-type work. Hasn’t the district been maintaining the buildings all along?
The district does ongoing, routine maintenance work every year. The proposed work is not “routine maintenance” but, instead, is a collection of medium- to large-scale projects that fall outside the definition of routine maintenance. Replacing big-ticket items that are approaching the end of their useful lives through the bond will avoid costly, emergency action in the future.
6. How can the district say there will be no tax impact?
By strategically timing the payments on this capital project, the Board of Education is avoiding a school tax impact. Old debt from previous capital projects, now completed, is retiring between 2019 and 2022.
The new debt from this capital project is expected to begin in 2023 so the net effect will be tax neutral.
7. How are sustainability considerations being addressed in the proposed project scope?
The District’s architecture consultants, Tetra Tech, intend to employ many eco-friendly principles when developing construction plans, both in materials selection and interconnected component design.
8. Will any of the projects proposed in the project scope interfere with classes at any of our schools?
No class time will be interrupted or cancelled due to construction or other work being performed. Construction crews and other contractors’ work shifts for interior projects will be concentrated during summer months and other times when school is not in session. If any interior work is to be done during the school year, work shifts will be scheduled during weekends, evenings and other times when interior building spaces are unoccupied. This work would be relatively minor in nature.
9. What safety measures will be taken during exterior construction while school is in session to safeguard children, building personnel and school visitors?
State Education Department (SED) guidelines must be followed when performing work at any school facility. All capital construction projects require a building permit issued by the SED. The importance of a building permit is to ensure that the work will be done properly to preserve the health and safety of a facility’s occupants or users. For example, SED requires permanent separation between all work areas and students. In addition, the District has retained the services of a construction manager who will be on site during all phases of construction.
10. How will the district address students’ safety and security during construction?
All construction work at Mahopac Schools is subject to strict New York State Education Department (SED) guidelines regarding construction at any school facility. No construction at Mahopac Schools can start without a building permit issued by the SED, which stipulates the manner in which work must be done to ensure the health and safety of a facility’s occupants and users. SED also requires permanent separation between all work areas and students. The plan for Mahopac Schools is to have all new construction done during the summer months, with weekend and evening work shifts scheduled if necessary to ensure completion before students return to the building. As part of the plan for construction, the District will also incorporate best practices regarding noise and air quality monitoring. In addition, the District has retained the services of a construction manager that will manage on site during all phases of construction.
11. What is the district’s state aid rate for eligible capital projects? based on the proposed project scope, are all projects eligible for state aid?
The District’s state aid rate for eligible capital projects is currently 58.1% percent. The District is projecting that 90-95 percent of all projects proposed in the project scope will be eligible for state aid.
12. The board established tax neutrality as one of the major priorities in developing the proposed 2019 bond referendum. What does this mean?
The overarching fiscal assumption made in planning for this bond referendum has been the achievement of tax neutrality. The Board of Education directive was to keep projected new District annual debt no higher than the amount being retired by the District.
13. What is the voting information?
Date of Bond Referendum*: Thursday, May 21, 2019
Times of voting: 6:00 am to 9:00 pm
Location of voting: Mahopac High School Gymnasium
- A resident of the district for at least 30 days prior to the vote
- 18 years of age or older
- A U.S. citizen
- Registered with the school district or the Putnam County Board of Elections
Qualified residents may register at the District Office with the District Clerk during business hours from 9 to 3:00 pm, on any school business day up to May 14, 2019. There will be an extended night registration on May 14, 2019 until 7:00 pm in the District Office located at 179 East Lake Blvd.
New residents or those not registered are reminded that registration of voters is required in order to vote in the May 21, 2019 School Board Elections and Budget Vote. If you have already registered with Putnam County Board of Elections you do not need to register.
Applications for absentee ballots are available on the District’s website and at the District Office. All completed ballots are due in the office of the District Clerk by 5:00 pm on May 21, 2019. For more information, contact Melody LaRocca, District Clerk, LaroccaM@mahopac.k12.ny.us or 845-628-3415 x10550.
* This is also the voting day and time for the 2019-20 school budget and Board of Education candidates. Please note the public budget hearing is Tuesday, May 7, 7pm at the Mahopac Falls Auditorium.
For more information, contact Melody LaRocca, District Clerk, LaroccaM@mahopac.k12.ny.usOpens a New Window. or 845-628-3415 x10550.