MASSENA — Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady will hold his second of three public forums on the district’s proposed 2023-24 budget during Thursday’s 7 p.m. board of education meeting.
Although the numbers are still preliminary until a state budget is adopted, Mr. Brady said during his first public forum that the goal of the Finance Committee was to present voters with a 0% tax levy increase
The district’s estimated property tax cap for 2023-24 is 3.92%, which would raise $15,413,194 in property tax revenue, or $581,497 more than the 2022-23 levy. A 1% increase in taxes yields $148,317.
“The budget figures remain preliminary as administration and the Finance Committee continue to gather information in preparation of a final budget in April,” Mr. Brady said in his latest superintendent’s update. “Our current projections are based on the governor’s proposal released on February 1st.”
Under Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul’s budget proposal, they’re looking at $34,716,565 in foundation aid, an increase of $5,290,363, or 17.98%. Under the governor’s proposal, Massena’s expensed-based aids would be $8,544,689, an increase of $735,688, or 9.42%. Because of the ongoing capital project, building aid is estimated at $6,752,375, an increase of $1,556,784, or 29.96%.
The board of education will be asked to adopt the budget on April 17, and another public hearing will be held on May 4. The budget vote is set for noon to 8 p.m. May 16.
A public hearing is also scheduled for Thursday night to take comments on plans to offer the firefighter and ambulance workers a 10% tax exemption on real property. They heard from First Assistant Chief Thomas C. Miller from the Massena Volunteer Fire Department during the board’s February meeting.
“At the February board of education meeting we heard from Massena Fire Department First Assistant Chief Tom Miller about a tax exemption law signed by Governor Hochul in December. This was an addendum to the Real Property Tax Law § 466-a which provides an exemption of up to 10% of the assessed value of the primary residence of volunteer firefighters and/or volunteer ambulance workers. Previously, the exemption was a maximum of $3,000 and only the village of Massena currently provides this benefit,” Mr. Brady said.
The board will be asked to move forward with providing the exemption. If it is approved, the 10% exemption on school tax bills would apply to any volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker who lives within the school district’s boundaries, which includes the town and village of Massena, the town of Louisville, and portions of the towns of Brasher and Norfolk.
Board members will also be asked to accept the district’s portion of a settlement as a result of a national lawsuit filed against Juul Labs Inc. for their marketing of e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
“In August 2021, the board of education joined a national lawsuit at the request of our school attorney, The Ferrara Firm, against Juul Labs Inc. for their marketing of e-cigarettes and vaping devices to children. The lawsuit was originated in the Northern District of California and sought to claim damages for the costs to schools for dealing with the vaping epidemic. There was no cost to the district for this action,” Mr. Brady said.
He said they’ve received notification that a settlement was made in the case and that school districts who joined the lawsuit will receive a portion of the award.
“The amount of the award for Massena is $14,492 with the potential of a further award from Altria Group Inc. who was an additional defendant in the lawsuit for participating with Juul labs in marketing vaping to children,” he said.
Mr. Brady will also be recommending that board members approve participation in a joint bidding effort for lead testing in drinking water services. That had been handled by the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. But, he said, BOCES has determined it’s no longer cost-effective for them to continue with the service because of increased lab fees and additional costs from laboratories across the state.
“The Jeff-Lewis Health & Safety Department is part of a statewide association of health and safety professionals that has discussed this situation at length. As a group, it was decided that it would be to our collective benefit to work together on a cooperative bid for lead in drinking water services, in attempt to secure the best pricing. Lead in drinking water services will include the physical sampling and lab analysis for water samples,” he said.
Mr. Brady said Citi BOCES has offered to lead the cooperative purchasing service since they already have a request for proposal developed from the previous sampling contract.
“In order to participate in this joint bidding of lead in drinking water services, any interested district/BOCES will need a resolution authorizing participation in Oswego County BOCES cooperative purchasing program. I would recommend that the Massena Central School District participate in this joint bidding effort,” he said.
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