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Cheektowaga-Sloan capital project won’t mean more cost to taxpayers

A planned capital improvement project in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District will not require a single additional penny from local taxpayers.

Residents attending Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting heard details of the project from district business manager Wayne W. Drescher, who said the $18 million project will cover basic necessities such as roofs, boiler systems and windows.

According to Drescher, the district would get money back through a combination of a capital reserve fund established several years ago and the formula with which Cheektowaga-Sloan is reimbursed by New York State.

Drescher said the district has $3.5 million in the reserve fund, which was authorized in 2006 by a voter referendum.

“That money can only be spent for a capital project, and we want to use it towards the cost of that $18 million,” Drescher said. The remaining $14.5 million would be borrowed through serial bonds and repaid over a 15-year period.

The district’s state aid ratio for capital projects is 88.6 percent, which will be based on the assumed amortization of $18 million. Accounting for interest to be paid on the bonds, Drescher estimated Cheektowaga-Sloan would come out financially ahead by about $1.8 million.

“We actually will get more back from New York State than we will put in,” Drescher said.

Aside from the state aid, the district will realize additional savings through reductions of maintenance and temporary repairs, utility costs from energy-efficient upgrades, and reduced exposure to risks such as asbestos abatement.

“The incredible thing is we’re getting money back,” said Superintendent Andrea L. Galenski.

The district will host a public hearing on the capital project at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 in the cafetorium at Theodore Roosevelt School. Voters will have final say on the project Dec. 16 when the polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at John F. Kennedy High School.

The district also received high marks from a recently completed independent audit.

Heather Briggs, a representative of the accounting firm the Bonadio Group, reported that the audit turned up nothing unusual, and was returned unmodified, which she said is the highest opinion that can be rendered on district audits.

Among the highlights:

• Briggs said Cheektowaga-Sloan receives 49 percent of its revenue from taxes and 43 percent from state aid, which she called normal.

• The district has a surplus in its school lunch fund.