Board Sets Dec. 12 Public Vote

ELLERY – The Bemus Point Central School district is making preparations for a Dec. 12 public vote on its two-phase, $16.4 million capital project proposal.

Recently, the Board of Education held a special meeting to approve two separate resolutions regarding the finalization of its project scope and establishing a time frame for public presentations over the next month.

“This was a special meeting that we had planned several weeks ago in order to do a couple of motions related to the capital project,” said Michael Mansfield, district superintendent. “We adopted the (State Environmental Quality Review Act) resolution, which is the environmental assessment form, and a resolution calling for a public hearing and vote.”

Mansfield said the public hearing presentation will be largely similar to that which was presented in a series of three public meetings held last month, but will include some pieces of new information.

“We want to make sure people know exactly what they’re voting on,” Mansfield said. “We’ll be working over the next couple of weeks to put together a presentation basically covering what we did last time, but with more detail.”

As it stands, the project is divided into two separate propositions and addresses needs in the bus garage, elementary school and Maple Grove Jr.-Sr. High School buildings.

The first part of the project, referred to as “Proposition One,” entails numerous modifications to each of the three district buildings within the areas of health and safety, renovations and maintenance. Proposition One is estimated to cost a total of $8.4 million, and is said to result in no tax increase. This will be possible by replacing the expiring debt from the district’s last major capital projects in 1994 and 1999.

“The debt is coming off of those, so we now have the ability to do a substantial project without increasing the local tax levy in the budget,” Mansfield said during a presentation last month. “So that’s a timing issue and, at this point, this is a good time to do that.”

The second part of the project, Proposition Two, will only involve the Maple Grove and elementary school buildings – with the biggest overhaul being in the form of an upgrade to the entire lockdown access security system. Proposition Two is estimated to cost slightly more than $8 million, with the borrowing of the money taking place during the 2015-16 school year and the first payment budgeted for 2016-17. The 2016-17 budget then would reflect an estimated local share of $225,000, and an estimated tax levy increase of 2.86 percent.

During a presentation last month, Mansfield addressed confusion over how the $225,000 local share correlates to no tax increase in Proposition One, but a 2.86 percent increase on the less costly Proposition Two.

“It’s not an either-or situation,” Mansfield said. “Proposition One stands alone. That has to pass before you even talk about Proposition Two, which is in addition to (Proposition One). So in the vote, when we set this up and have the propositions out, you have to vote on both. If you didn’t want either, you have to vote no for Proposition One and no for Proposition Two or your ballot doesn’t count. If they’re both approved, then we can plan the money and projects accordingly.”

Mansfield said the district will be reaching out to its community in order to schedule public hearings during the first weeks of November. He said more public presentations are being considered for the time between Thanksgiving and the Dec. 12 vote.