Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 7:04:19 AM

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Public Weighs in on Proposed CV/CF Merger

(Source: Kate Thornton)

The Chenango Forks High School auditorium was packed almost at capacity Wednesday night for the public hearing on the proposed merger of the Forks and Chenango Valley school districts.

A presentation detailing the findings of a consolidation study of the possible merger was given to the public.

After the presentation, residents were allowed to ask questions and express concerns.

The biggest concern, especially to Chenango Forks residents opposed to the possible merger, is the increase in their taxes.

A home assessed for $100,000 in the Chenango Forks district could see an approximate $300 increase in their school taxes.

A home assessed for $100,000 in the Chenango Valley district could see an approximate $200 decrease in their school taxes.

This is something that doesn't sit well with Chenango Forks district resident Maggie Murray. 

"As a resident, I do not want my taxes going up.  That would be a no for me as of right now.  There's no reason to go forward," said Murray.

Chenango Valley district resident Dee Tauer said she was going into the meeting with an opening mind to better understand what the merger means for the students.  She has children who attend school in the Chenango Valley district.

"My concern about the school merging is how many children would not be able to participate in sports.  And, there's a whole lot of other things going on as well," said Tauer.

Chenango Valley High School seniors Zach Cole and Amer Dzaferovic said it would be weird being the last class to graduate from Chenango Valley.

"Knowing that you can tell your kids that you were the last CV class, and them not even knowing what CV is, it's just weird," said Cole.

"It's definitely going to be interesting because like coming back a few years from now, if it does happen, you're not going to even know what CV was because they're going to be together," said Dzaferovic.

In the presentation, the project future outcomes of the both the school's finances were outlined, including what the projected finances would be for a merged school district with a blended tax levy and a leveled tax levy.

According to the presentation, if the schools were not to merge, the estimate fund balance at the end of the 2014-2015 school year for Chenango Forks would be $86,163, down from the projected $2,428,625 the previous (current) school year.  The projected fund balance for Chenango Forks is in the red at the end of the 2015-2016 is a deficit of $2,519,764, and -$5,400,716 at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

For Chenango Valley, the projected fund balance for the end of the 2014-2015 school year, according to the presentation, would be $3,017,765.  That's down from the current school year's estimate fund balance of $4,589,761.  The estimated fund balance at the end of the 2015-2016 school year would be $1,210,252, and -$846,884 at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

The same estimates were conducted for a merged school district for both a blended tax levy and a leveled tax levy. 

A blended tax levy would have an estimated $8,225,820 fund balance at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  A leveled tax levy would have an estimated fund balance of $4,743,142.

The projected fund balance increases to $9,083,432 by the end of the 2015-2016 school year; and increases to a projected $9,432,371 by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

Not the same for a leveled tax levy.

The presentation shows an projected decrease in fund balance each school year.  The 2015-2016 fund balance projection drops from $4,743,142 the previous year to $1,894,008, and then in the red by the end of the 2016-2017 school year with a deficit of $1,416,043.

Both school boards will vote separately on October 28th whether to move forward with the merger or not.

If both school boards approve the merger, then it will go up for a straw poll vote to the public.  If residents of both districts approve that vote, then it will go up for another vote in January.

There is a $44.8 million dollar state aid incentive over a 14-year period if the school districts were to merge.






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