Frequently Asked Questions
Qualified residents of the Brighton Central School District will vote on the next year’s school budget along with other items on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Brighton High School, 1150 Winton Road South.
Here are some of the great questions that have been asked so far with some information for you to consider:
Q: What will the tax increase support? How is it broken down?
A: The total proposed increase is 4.89%. 2.3% of that is the regular increase in program expenses. (Since 2008 our average annual tax increase has been 2.3%)
0.29% is for additional mental health supports, safety and security staff, and diversity/equity programming. The remaining 2.3% is the one time “lift” to incorporate the debt service or the payment for the capital project approved in 2017.
Expressed another way, this supports a spending increase of 4.5%. 2.9% of the spending is on program.
In fact, the regular spending increase is under 3% (Since 2008 our average annual spending increase has been 3.1%) while an additional 1.6% is for capital. Again, this is the debt service issue for the 2017 capital project that we have been discussing.
Q: Can’t we sue the state for our fair share?
A: We are exploring that option again right now. We have asked this very question of our attorney in the past and been told that lawsuits of this kind are lengthy, costly to taxpayers and would likely be unsuccessful as there is no evidence that our students have been hurt or our mission impacted by the state’s actions. The injured party seems to be the taxpayers and we are now actively exploring what it would take and what we can do to assist the community in an effort such as this.
Q: My single income household will feel a stress with this budget, why should I support it?
A: We recognize the burden that taxes are for all types of families. We believe that we are presenting a budget that protects the community from long term larger increases in taxes and protects students from significant cuts to programs. From an equity perspective, non-mandated programs are provided to all students and not subject to an ability to seek private opportunities for the same types or programs. From a success perspective, these programs are the great equalizer and the reason why students from all types of backgrounds and all types of families are excelling. More success equals greater opportunity which also equals greater value for living in the community.
Q: What are the rates per 1,000 and how do I know how much this will cost me based on the value of my home?
Town of Brighton
Town of Pittsford
2018-19 Tax Rate
2019-20 Est Tax Rate
The tentative increase in taxable property in the Town of Brighton increased 0.6%
Chart of Estimated Change in Tax Bill
(Assuming no change in assessment, or exemptions)
Taxable Assessed Value
Q: Are we losing the property tax relief credit this year? Will we lose it in future years too?
A: Because the Brighton Central School District is proposing a budget that exceeds the New York State Tax Cap, some of our homeowners that were eligible for the property tax relief credit in 2018-19 will not be eligible for the credit with this proposal. The STAR tax exemption savings would not be impacted. The potential loss of this rebate check is not a permanent loss at all. Residents would again be eligible in future years. The purpose of exceeding the cap in the 2019-20 budget is to avoid having to exceed the cap in future budget years by fully funding the tax levy impact of the capital project and prudently planning for full-day kindergarten. We have only exceeded the cap one other time and do not anticipate having to do so again for many years, if at all.
Q: Why is the Brighton Facilities Improvement Project causing a budget increase this year? Didn’t we add the cost when we approved the project at the May 2017 vote?
A: The capital project vote in May of 2017 did not add any cost to the budget or tax levy at the time. When the voters considered the capital project in 2017, the District was transparent that the project would require a tax increase. The District has utilized reserves in 2018-19 to defer the need for any short-term borrowing, however as construction ramps up in the summer of 2019, debt will be required. The 2019-20 budget proposal reflects the project’s net impact on the tax levy over the life of the project, so there wouldn’t be an increase related to the project in future years.
Q: What happens if the proposed budget is not approved?
A: The district would begin by reviewing feedback from the process and then discuss options. For the district to propose a budget under the cap, $1.3 million of spending would have to be cut. The district would need to reduce programming throughout the district, put off important spending on equipment and furniture that must be replaced, and defer both funding for Full Day Kindergarten and the debt service for the voter approved 2017 capital project. These delays will all need to be funded next year and would result in additional programming reductions. We are reimbursed in state aid for a portion of our debt service a year after it is paid. Deferring that now would defer the reimbursement and only exacerbate the problem.
The Board may conduct a re-vote on a revised proposal as described above or the identical proposal, or go straight to what the law considers a “Contingent Budget.” Per NYS law, school boards are allowed to submit a budget to the voters a maximum of two times, and if both fail, a “Contingent Budget” must be implemented. The law requires that a Contingent Budget not include certain non-ordinary contingent expenses AND that the new budget must have a Tax Levy that is not greater than the previous year’s Tax Levy.
Q: What is Foundation Aid and why is it a problem for Brighton?
A: Foundation Aid is the basic operating funds that New York State is required to provide to each school district as part of their obligation to provide a free, appropriate, public education. The amount each district is supposed to receive is based on their needs as determined by student characteristics and the ability for the community to support their schools. The formula for determining the amount is a state formula and aspects of the formula have been manipulated in the state’s budget process several times over the years. These manipulations have inequitably impacted Brighton as our enrollment and needs increased differently than most other districts. The state’s formula indicates that we should be receiving $16.2 million. The enacted budget as agreed to by the Governor, Assembly and Senate is only providing just over $8 million. Despite a considerable amount of advocacy, we are receiving among the lowest percentages of aid due when compared throughout the state. The result of this shortfall is a significant difference in property taxes and the potential for significant reductions in programming.