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Last Chance to Register to Vote for School Buildings and Fields

The deadline to register to vote in Tarrytown and Sleepy is Thursday, Dec. 5 for a special vote on the 10th for two major capital project bond proposals.

This is about so much more than our fields, said one Tarrytowns school district parent of the Capital Projects Bond propositions up for vote next week – though it’s the fields that tend to get the most people talking.

On Facebook, John Sutherland used a photo of our time-traveling TV hero of the moment, Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane: “200 years have passed and no turf fields in Sleepy Hollow? Even Ichabod Crane is wondering why there are no turf fields?”

But many among the crowd that came to the recent public forum on the proposed multi-million dollar improvement projects know that the infrastructure of the schools are in dire of need of an upgrade as well. “This isn’t just about fields,” one parent said. “It’s heating, roofs…it's for our kids.” 

The question remains if enough citizens without kids, or even those with children in district schools, will agree and vote yes for one or both proposals on Tuesday, Dec. 10. 

There is, of course one common concern among every homeowner: property values, inextricably linked with the quality of our schools.

Here are the propositions:

Proposition 1 

contains a lengthy number of facilities and fields improvements. To sum it up:
  • roof replacements and repairs,
  • electrical upgrades,
  • a switch from oil to gas service at Washington Irving School,
  • an elevator and lift system at the Winfield Morse School,
  • upgrades to ventilation systems,
  • and masonry work on deteriorating chimneys.

This plus $1.4M in field work comes to a total of $8,058,638.

Voters will have a choice: to support a synthetic turf for the high school (Prop 1) or get two turf fields (Prop 1 and Prop 2). Which brings us to: 

Proposition 2 

only includes the installation of synthetic turf at the Washington Irving lower field. This extra item grew out of community and parent demands at a time when “participation in Tarrytown sports has skyrocketed in the last decade,” Board President Mimi Godwin wrote in the district newsletter dedicated to the topic.

Proposition 2 would cost $1,657,500.

No matter the vote, Prop 2 would only pass and be implemented if the first proposition passes. Proposition 1, on the other hand, can pass all by itself. Prop 1 and 2 together: $9,716,138.

Who pays? 

It’s not all on the taxpayers. School reserves amount to $800,000, and a generous targeted donation of $70,000 comes from the Godwin family in memory of Howard Godwin to sod and irrigate the upper field of WI. 

The district plans to borrow an amount not to exceed $8,846,138 in 15-year bonds at an expected low 4.5 percent interest rate. "The District is expecting to receive 30 percent reimbursement from New York State,” Godwin added. 

A timeline: after the vote, the NYS Board of Education would have approve it likely in July 2014. Bonding should take place in the 2015-2016 school year, meaning the impact to taxpayers does not come until the 2016-2017 school year.

So what does this mean for your tax bill?

Increases, depending on if only Prop 1 or both Prop 1 and 2 pass and based on your average tax bill, would reportedly range from $3.75/month to $18.43/month per homeowner.

For Prop 1: the school tax bill estimates on a $7.188M net bond comes to net cost on tax bill of .899 percent.

For Props 1 and 2 together: based on a $8.846M net bond, the net cost on tax bill is 1.106 percent.

Zoom into the chart in the above window to see how this might impact you in particular. 

“The Board and committee members from throughout the villages have worked hard for over a year,” President Mimi Godwin said. “They have revisited and revised earlier proposals to make this one a reasonable balance between the need to maintain our school buildings, and offering expanded access to athletic fields to keep our children engaged in healthy outdoor activities. The Board and Committee continually considered the impact of taxes on all of you. Thank you for your consideration of this plan. Please come out to vote on December 10.”

Here’s exactly what the ballot will look like when you do:

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YES/NO

PROPOSITION NO. 1

  • (a) That the Board of Education of the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns, in the County of Westchester, New York (the “District”), is hereby authorized to construct improvements and alterations to District buildings and sites (the “Project”) including roof replacement and/or reconstruction, the construction of a new multi-purpose facility, elevator installation and/or refurbishment, mechanical and masonry improvements and athletic improvements, including a new turf field at Sleepy Hollow High School and to expend not to exceed $8,058,638 therefore; (b) that a tax is hereby voted in an amount of not to exceed the estimated total cost of $8,058,638 to finance such cost, such tax to be levied and collected in installments in such years and in such amounts as shall be determined by said Board of Education; (c) that in anticipation of said tax, bonds of the District are hereby authorized to be issued in the aggregate principal amount of not to exceed $8,058,638, and a tax is hereby voted to pay the interest on said bonds as the same shall become due and payable; and (d) that the Board of Education is hereby authorized to establish a capital reserve fund to be designated “Capital Reserve Fund 2013” (the “Fund”) to pay a portion of the cost of the Project; the probable term of the Fund will not exceed five (5) years from the date of its establishment; the Fund will consist of moneys transferred from time to time from surplus or other available moneys of the District; the ultimate principal amount of the Fund will be $800,000 plus interest earnings thereon; and all moneys in the Fund are hereby authorized to be expended for the Project and any such moneys so expended shall reduce by like amount the taxes and bonds herein authorized.

YES/NO

PROPOSITION NO. 2

  • (a) THAT IN THE EVENT BOND PROPOSITION NO. 1 IS APPROVED, the Board of Education of the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns, in the County of Westchester, New York (the “District”), is hereby authorized to construct a turf field at the Washington Irving School and to expend not to exceed $1,657,500 therefor; (b) that a tax is hereby voted in an amount of not to exceed the estimated total cost of $1,657,500 to finance such cost, such tax to be levied and collected in installments in such years and in such amounts as shall be determined by said Board of Education; and (c) that in anticipation of said tax, bonds of the District are hereby authorized to be issued in the aggregate principal amount of not to exceed $1,657,500, and a tax is hereby voted to pay the interest on said bonds as the same shall become due and payable; and (d) that if this Bond Proposition No. 2 is approved, it shall become effective only in the event that Bond Proposition No. 1 is approved.

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Voting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with Tarrytown residents voting at Washington Irving School and Sleepy Hollow residents voting at Morse School. Voters must register by Dec. 5 if you’re not already registered to vote for the schools.

More information on the proposals, how to register and when to vote can be found here and in the window above. (Click the magnifying glass to zoom in).

Send any questions on the propositions to capitalbonds@tufsd.org.

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