Education

Voters Say No to School's Capital Improvement Plan

6c667e00945158208c47_45324_-001.jpg
Aldo Mazzaferro, director of project development for ECG Engineering, explains the energy performance improvement projects to the Mahopac Board of Education. Credits: Bob Dumas
6c667e00945158208c47_45324_-001.jpg

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— A referendum to repair school roofs and make energy improvements throughout the district’s buildings was turned down by voters last week by just 15 votes.

Voters went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 15, and voted 140-125 to reject the $8 million capital-improvement project even though school officials said it would have been done without borrowing money or raising the tax rate.

School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon said he took “full responsibility” for the measure’s defeat, believing he failed to get the message out and explain the project more clearly.

Sign Up for E-News

“We posted it three times [in newspaper legals] and Mahopac News wrote about it,” he said. “We did some presentations and created a video. Some people even put up road signs. But we didn’t publicize it enough.”

Creedon said he believes most district residents were in favor of the plan but didn’t come out to the polls because they were unaware of the vote that day.

“People who called us said they didn’t know the vote was taking place but they supported the project,” he said.

Creedon also said the torrential rains that fell that day could have also suppressed voter turnout. However, those who opposed the project, for whatever reason, made a concerted effort to make it to the polls.

“Remember last year we still had one-third of the people voting ‘no’ on the budget even though there was hardly any tax rate increase,” he said.

The proposed capital projects included two components. The first was a series of energy performance improvements (known as an energy performance contract, or EPC) to several schools throughout the district, including the addition of solar energy. The second was a roof replacement project for three schools.

The overall cost of the EPC would have been about $4.2 million. The first year’s savings was projected to be $261,527, plus $108,137 in state aid. The district would have made a debt payment of $337,361 and paid $8,078 for annual solar PV panel maintenance. It would have resulted in a positive annual cash flow of $24,225, which translated to a $1.3 million positive cash flow over the 18-year term of the deal. Ameresco, the energy service company that put together the EPC, had guaranteed the savings and would have reimbursed the district if the savings had not been realized.

The roof project called for repairing roofs at Austin Roads and Lakeview elementary schools, and a portion of the high school. The projected cost of the roofing project was $3.7 million. State aid would have covered 42 percent of the project, leaving about $1.55 million for the district to pay. But last May, voters approved a measure allowing the district to create a capital reserve account that could not exceed $2.5 million or last longer than five years. The district currently has about $1.37 million in that reserve account, money that came from unexpended reserves. District officials said more money was to be added to that capital reserve without necessitating an increase in the tax levy.

“The size of it worried some people,” Creedon said of the “no” vote. “And there are multiple parts to the bond issue [on the ballot] and some were confused by it.”

Creedon said the Board of Education and district administrators plan to put the referendum back before the voters—most likely next May during the budget vote and school board trustee elections. In the meantime, he said, the district plans on doing a better job of educating residents on what the project is all about, how it will be financed, and why it won’t raise taxes.

“We will be looking at a different format and make sure we have included it in the budget presentations to PTO and to families, and send reminders out,” he said.

Creedon also said he felt the district’s website could have done a better job of presenting and explaining the project and he’d consider changing that.

If the referendum had passed, district officials had hoped to begin the project next year. Now, even if it is approved during next May’s election and budget vote, it will be significantly delayed.

“It will push the project back because even if passes [in May] it has to go back to the state’s review committee for its OK and that’s a lengthy process,” Creedon said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Facebook, Fools, Friends and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Since its inception, Facebook has been a regular target of mockery and criticism—everything from, “Do I really need to see a picture of the pastrami sandwich you had for lunch?” to “Why did you help the Russians get Donald Trump elected?”

No one likes to mock and criticize more than I do—just ask all of my former friends. And while I agree that Facebook can ...

It Was the Economy That Got Trump Elected

I am not easily shocked by much anymore. Yet, I was by last week’s column by fellow columnist Bernie Kosberg. Kosberg, whose column runs regularly in Mahopac News and sometimes in Yorktown News, said in the first paragraph: “Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of ...

God Is Just! Schneiderman Is Out!

Whenever you doubt that God is just, remember last Monday. That is the day New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned.

As you know, I have had him in my sights for a long time. He has squandered our tax dollars with more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration. Plus, his lawsuits against Big Oil and trying to nullify our double jeopardy laws. Most will go nowhere as ...

It Wasn’t About the Economy or Jobs

Soon after President Trump was “crowned” by the Electoral College in November 2016, I wrote a column about Putnam County voters that garnered some attention—both good and bad. Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of suitable jobs, but to the overarching fear ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

CD Release Concert - New Middle Class at Putnam Arts Council

May 23, 2018

Press Release




Contact: Mike Borok  info@newmiddleclass.com

Phone: (914) 962-0120


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2018


Putnam Arts Council Hosts CD Release Concert featuring New Middle Class, with Dan Pelletier & Wendy Cody

MAHOPAC, ny: On Saturday evening, June 16, 2018, the Putnam Arts Council will host a concert ...