2020-21 Budget News

Absentee Ballots Due June 9: Residents to vote on a proposed 2020-21 budget that maintains student programming, reduces 19 positions and carries an estimated 1.98% tax rate increase

BH-BL residents are being asked to consider via absentee ballot a proposed $70.88 million budget that carries a 1.98 percent tax rate increase for the 2020-21 school year. This proposal maintains all current academic programs and services for students while keeping the tax levy increase (2.90 percent) below the tax cap for the eighth consecutive year. Residents will select three candidates for the board of education. A 2020-21 Budget newsletter will be mailed to residents in late May. Residents should also receive their absentee ballot packet in early June.

Absentee ballot voting this year

In an executive order issued on May 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that this year’s school budget vote and board of education election will take place exclusively by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. By law, the district must receive ballots by 5 p.m. on June 9, 2020. They can be mailed in the district-provided, prepaid return envelope or dropped off in the same envelope at the District Office (Hostetter Leadership Center) entrance located at the High School, 88 Lakehill Road, or at any of the three elementary schools. (We have lock boxes we will insert the ballots into.) The buildings are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Tuesday, June 9 the buildings will be open until 5 p.m. By law, ballots received after 5 p.m. on June 9 cannot to be counted.

Where do I get a ballot? Qualified voters will be mailed absentee ballots in early June.

Qualified Voter: All voters must be United States citizens, age 18 or older on election day, residents of the BH-BL school district for 30 days immediately prior to election day, and registered to vote with the county or district.

Make Sure Your Vote Is Counted

In order for your ballot to count in the budget vote and board elections it must, by law, be received BY 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. Additionally, the return envelope where you insert your completed ballot MUST be signed by the voter. Even if you are dropping off your ballot at the District Office, the ballot MUST still be in the return envelope and the return envelope MUST be signed.

Other 2020-21 Budget Materials

Budget Vote & Elections Postponed to June 2020

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020-21 school budget vote and board elections have been postponed to some time in June 2020. A specific date has not yet been determined. We will post the new vote date as soon as it’s been announced.

2020-21 Budget Development Plan & Calendar

School officials and the board have begun work on the 2020-21 school budget. The first order of business was the approval and adoption of the budget context, objectives and development calendar. The board uses this as a guide when building the budget.

Changes to STAR Program may impact residents for the 2019-2020 school year

There were some significant changes made to the STAR program in the state’s 2019-2020 budget. In many cases, these changes resulted in a reduced STAR benefit for BH-BL residents or a change in the way those benefits were received. This change has caused some confusion with year-to-year changes in residents’ final school tax bills.

For reference, below is a listing of annual changes to BH-BL’s school tax rates.

The changes to the tax rates (above) are the actual numbers submitted to the tax collector and the district’s town assessors. The figures accurately reflect the changes to the taxpayers’ overall school tax rates for each of the past six years. They do not take into account any increases or decreases that New York state may have made to the STAR program during that time, changes over which the school district has no control. Changes made by the state to the STAR program will result in changes to a resident’s final tax bill (the amount due after application of STAR and other reductions and/or exemptions) that may not match the percent changes listed above.

Detailed information about the state’s changes to the STAR program are available on the Taxation & Finance website.

If you have any questions regarding your STAR exemption please contact the New York State Taxation and Finance STAR division at 518-457-2036, Monday through Friday between  8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Residents seeking information about their current school tax bill (NOT related to the STAR exemption) may contact the district via email at taxoffice@bhbl.org or by phone at (518) 399-9141, ext. 85027 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m Monday through Friday. Additionally, residents may also use the tax bill lookup feature.

2019-20 School Budget

  • Budget: $69,548,408 (1,173 yes votes to 420 no votes)
  • Estimated tax rate increase: 1.95%
  • Tax levy increase: 2.90%
  • Budget-to-budget increase: 2.15%

Overview of the Budget Process

Budget development actually starts in every November when the Board of Education begins to identify their budget objectives and the factors external and internal to the school district that are likely to have the greatest impact on the next year’s budget. Such factors can include rising prices for fuel or health insurance, for example, or the expectation that we will be impacted by a new state mandate or a change in pupil enrollment.

By December, the Board has created a detailed budget development calendar that includes the objectives and context for the new school budget.

In January, the Board of Education receives preliminary budget requests for the coming school year from school administrators, as well as requests for additional staffing and possible new or improved programs.

February, March and early April are spent analyzing and discussing these requests at a series of public Finance Committee meetings. The school board also solicits public input on the budget and devotes time to budget development issues at its regular February and March business meetings. Administrators work to refine their numbers as more accurate cost estimates and enrollment figures are received during this period, and as Board members ask them to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of providing a service in a different way.

Throughout the winter and spring, school board members and administrators are also monitoring budget activity at the state level. BH-BL school board members and administrators are in frequent contact with local legislators to inform them how various state funding proposals will affect our schools.

In mid-April, the Board of Education votes on a proposed budget. A newsletter describing the budget is then printed and mailed to all district homes in early May. A copy of the proposed budget broken down by line items is also available in May at the main office of each school or the District Office. The public vote on the proposed budget is held by law on the third Tuesday in May.