Budget Vote Day Details

The school budget is the biggest investment the community collectively makes with its tax dollars. District leaders work to make the most effective use of resources to benefit students, to develop and manage the budget in a responsible and transparent manner and to be accountable to taxpayers. Each spring the board of education adopts a budget for the coming school year for a community vote.

Voters will cast ballots on the proposed 2019-20 school budget and school board candidates on Tuesday, May 21 in the Liberty High School gymnasium. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.

Budget News

Absentee ballots, applications

Absentee ballots are available for voters who are unable to vote in person due to illness, physical disability, hospitalization or travel.

Applications are needed in order to receive a ballot. To request your ballot application, e-mail District Clerk, Tania DeFrank at tdefrank@libertyk12.org or call (845) 292-6990, or visit the District Office at 115 Buckley Street in Liberty. If you want your ballot mailed to you, your application must be received by May 13. If you plan to pick up your application and ballot in person you may do so until May 20.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the district office by 5 p.m. on May 21.

Important Notice: Changes made to STAR program

Because New York state made changes to the Enhanced STAR tax exemption earlier this year, all residents age 65+ enrolled in Enhanced STAR now need to also be enrolled in the state’s Income Verification Program (IVP) to continue receiving their Enhanced STAR benefit. The deadline to enroll in IVP was March 1.

What is the difference between the tax levy and tax rate?

The tax levy is the total amount of money a school district raises in taxes each year from all property owners in the district. Tax rates are calculated by dividing the total amount of the levy by the total taxable assessed value in a community. Tax rates are affected by changes in municipal assessments and state equalization rates, which are determined in the summer. The tax rate is used to calculate each individual property tax bill. In August 2018, the Liberty Board of Education approved a 0.5% tax rate increase.

What is the tax levy limit, or tax cap?

The tax levy limit is the highest allowable tax levy (before exemptions) that a school district can propose as part of its annual budget for which a simple majority of voters (50 percent + 1) would be required for authorization. Any proposed tax levy amount above this limit would require budget approval by a supermajority (60 percent or more) of voters. The tax levy limit sets a threshold requiring districts to obtain a higher level of community support for a proposed tax levy above a certain amount.

School tax information

Tax rates for each municipality within the district are set each August. They are based on the tax levy for the year and final municipal assessments for each of the towns. Tax rates vary between towns because property in each is assessed at different levels in relation to full market value. The state assigns each town an equalization rate to fairly divide the tax levy between the towns. The district does not control any part of the assessment or equalization process.

Liberty’s 2018-19 budget: $48,849,113

  • Program Budget: $36,907,299
    The Program Budget includes: The salaries and benefits of all teachers, guidance counselors, aides, monitors, psychologists, nurses, social workers and speech therapists.
  • Capital Budget: $7,265,744
    The Capital Budget includes: Debt service on buildings; bus purchases; tax certiorari and court-ordered costs; and operations and maintenance costs including custodial staff.
  • Administrative Budget $4,676,069
    The Administrative Budget includes: The salaries and benefits of all professional members who spend 50 percent or more of their time in administration and supervision. Also included are: clerical staff; public information; curriculum development and supervision; research, planning and evaluation; legal services; and school board-related costs.

Budget Development

Budget development is a year-round process. Shaping the district’s budget begins by determining expected enrollment for each grade at every school, as well as enrollment for English Language Learners, students with special needs and students considered at-risk for academic failure. The primary factor shaping school’s budget is the expected enrollment. This helps determine the amount of funding a school receives from local tax dollars and federal grants, including Title I dollars.  This one page budget 101 infographic (PDF) offers a  step-by-step overview of the annual school budget development process.

A contingent budget would result in reductions

If the budget is defeated, the board has three options: present the same budget for another vote; submit a revised budget for a vote; or adopt a contingent budget.

If the budget is defeated twice, the board must adopt a contingent budget, by law. Under the tax levy cap law, if a district adopts a contingent budget, it cannot increase its tax levy from that of the prior year by any amount – a zero percent increase.

For Liberty, a contingent budget would make the district subject to various limits and controls on how the money within the contingent budget is spent and would have to charge fees for public use of school buildings and grounds.