The proposed F-M High School capital project that Fayetteville-Manlius School District residents will vote on Dec. 7 would partially be paid for with money from the district’s capital reserve fund, which would help reduce the amount to be borrowed, and therefore, the project’s tax impact on residents.
The proposed project is focused entirely at F-M High School, the district’s only high school. The project would allow for programmatic upgrades and improvements, create a better connection between the school’s House 1 and 2, centralize administrators’ and counseling offices, improve heating and ventilation throughout the school and renovate portions of the building to better meet students’ needs.
To lessen the $52 million project’s impact on taxpayers, the district is proposing to use a combination of state building aid and money from its capital reserve fund. The district currently has a building aid ratio of about 80% for approved expenses, meaning the state would reimburse the district for about 80% of the eligible repairs and construction.
The district is also proposing to use $7.2 million from a capital reserve fund to reduce the amount of money to be borrowed for the project. Money for a capital reserve fund comes from general fund money that remains unspent at the end of each fiscal year. The fund is essentially like a savings account. It is limited and cannot grow larger than the amount voters authorized at the time it was established.
In 2017, voters authorized the creation of the capital reserve fund that the district would use to help pay for this project. With the use of the capital reserve funds, it is estimated that the project would result in a tax rate increase of 1.89%, or $47.80 for a home in the town of Manlius assessed at $100,000, which would be phased in over a four-year period beginning in 2024-25. That is estimated to equate to an average per-year increase of $11.95 per $100,000 of taxable value.
District officials have also been strategic in the timing of the proposal, said F-M Assistant Superintendent for Business Services William Furlong. New debt from the proposed project would be incurred when debt from previous capital projects would be retired in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years.
“As we developed the scope of this project, lessening the taxpayer impact on our residents was a priority for our school board members and district administrators,” Furlong said.