By Peter Jovanovich
If voters approve an $80 million school construction bond in March, they will see their taxes go up significantly in the years 2023-25; stay about flat from 2026 to 2033; and, actually go down in 2034, according to the Rye City School Board’s most recent presentation on December 11.
The $80 million of borrowing will be phased in over five years beginning June, 2019. In 2023, according to the Board, a house assessed at $1.6 million will see a tax increase of $138; $132 more in 2024, and a final increase of $126 in 2025. For a house assessed at $2.3 million, its tax burden from the debt would increase by $560 over that three-year period.
For the next eight years, as projected by the Board, tax increases will be minimal to pay interest and principal on the bond. In 2034, that $1.6 million house would see a $220 decline in taxes directly related to the debt. Thereafter, there would be virtually no increases related to the debt through 2050.
This scenario presumes that any future Board of Education does not seek to borrow any more money over the next thirty years. As Dr. Byrne remarked, “The Board believes this program fully meets the facility needs of our schools down the road.”
The reason for the ups and downs is layering of new and old debt. Rye City School District has existing debt expense of about $3.8 million a year (interest and principal). Earlier tranches of debt start to fall off beginning in 2034, meaning lower debt service and taxes to pay for it.
Board member Chris Repetto noted that this is “a very moderate change to debt expense” and “a very fiscally responsible way of doing this over a long period of time.”
Thirty-nine million dollars will be spent on upgrades and repairs of existing buildings with the provision of air conditioning in some spaces. Forty-one million will be spent on capital projects such as replacing portable classrooms, redesigning the libraries to reflect current trends, and new “common areas” designed to facilitate collaboration.
Summing up the bond decision, Board President Karen Belanger said: “We are really looking to pick out those spots where we need the repairs so badly and combine that with the vision of instructional spaces . . . that will allow for the new instructional approach that will improve student engagement.”
<The March bond vote is separate from the annual vote on the School District’s budget in May.>