Proposed plan an investment

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District voters will decide Tuesday whether to go ahead with a $19.8 million capital project.

The proposal includes a wide range of work, such as replacing rooftop air-handling units for $3.3 million, athletic facility improvements for $950,000, roof work for $2.4 million, a new turf field for $1.5 million, upgrading fire alarm systems, increasing computer bandwidth and doing other work related to safety, maintenance, energy efficiency and program improvements.

The district says the state may pay for up to 90 percent of the cost. The district put the reimbursement rate at 83 percent to be conservative. At that percentage, the state would pay $16.4 million and local taxpayers would pay $3.4 million. The project is projected to increase the tax rate by 53 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value beginning in 2016. In order to pass, the project needs to be approved by at least 60 percent of voters.

District administrators say the district is in good financial shape, and now is a good time for the project, especially with borrowing rates low and state aid reimbursement high.

Some members of the public argue parts of the project are unnecessary and should be omitted to bring down the overall cost. Others say the project would significantly improve the district’s facilities and the educational experience for students without costing local taxpayers a lot of money.

We believe voters may be deciding an issue that’s bigger than the project itself. If they approve the measure, they will make a strong, long-term investment in the district’s future. Most of what’s in the capital project proposal seems reasonable and necessary, if the district wants to remain viable for years to come.

If voters reject the capital plan, they will send a message suggesting they’re unwilling to make the investment. This could raise the issue of whether the district should consolidate with another one – something state government has been pushing many small districts to do.

Voters have an important decision to make Tuesday. We recommend residents educate themselves about the proposal so they can cast an informed vote. The public can find specifics about the project on the district’s website at www.fondafultonvilleschools.org.