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 Budget News

Residents Approve 2019-20 School Budget

On Tuesday, May 21 residents approved the 2019-20 school budget proposal of $69,548,408 with 1,173 yes votes and 420 no votes, and a passing margin of nearly 74 percent.

The Board of Education election results are Patrick Ziegler with 969 votes, Jennifer Longtin with 955 votes, and Lee-Ann Mertzlufft with 707 votes. Incumbents Ziegler and Longtin will begin their next three-year terms in July.

Additionally, the proposition to reauthorize an ex officio student member position on the Board of Education also passed with 1,358 yes votes and 224 no votes. Next school year will be the fifth year a student is on the board in a non-voting capacity.

[Budget Details/Newsletter] [Required Budget Packet]

2019-20 Public Budget Presentations

The public is invited to attend any of the following meetings to learn more about the proposed 2019-20 budget. The budget is slated to be adopted at the April 17 Board of Education meeting and put forth to voters on Tuesday, May 21.

  • Wednesday, May 1: BPA Meeting, 8:30 a.m., high school lower cafeteria
  • Wednesday, May 1: Stevens Elementary School PTA, 7 p.m., Library
  • Monday, May 6: HS PTSA, 7 p.m., Principal’s Conference Room
  • Thursday, May 9: Pashley PTA, 6 p.m., Library
  • Monday, May 13: Burnt Hills Rotary, 6:45 p.m., Ballston Town Hall, 323 Charlton Rd., Ballston Spa, 12020
  • Thursday, May 16: Charlton Heights PTA, 7 p.m., Library
  • Monday, May 20: O’Rourke Middle School PTA, 6:30 p.m., Library

School Budget Forum, April 10

Superintendent Patrick McGrath along with Assistant Superintendents Christopher Abdoo and Maryellen Symer outlined next school year’s proposed budget, highlighted changes and challenges, and answered questions at the 2019-20 School Budget Forum on Wednesday, April 10. If you were unable to attend in person, the forum was recorded. [Print-friendly Budget Presentation]

2019-20 Budget Development Plan & Calendar

School officials and the board have begun work on the 2019-20 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, which goes before voters Tuesday, May 21.

2018-19 School Budget

  • Budget: $68,082,518
  • Estimated tax rate increase: 1.98%
  • Tax levy increase: 2.90%
  • Budget-to-budget increase: 3.96% with 2.32 dedicated to the operating budget & 1.64% for debt service

In May, BH-BL residents approved the 2018-19 school budget with 1,090 yes votes to 389 no votes, and an approval percentage of 74%.

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.