Batavia school official says referendum on Nov. 8 ballot wouldn’t increase district’s interest tax levy

Batavia School District 101

The Batavia school board addressed lingering questions about the $140 million master facilities plan referendum, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, during their Oct. 25 board meeting.

If passed, the funds would be used to demolish and build replacements to H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools, along with changes and improvements to the district’s six other schools.

The district’s Chief Financial Officer Anton Inglese said that a passed referendum would not lead to a bond or interest tax levy increase.

“The levy itself is a process that we’ll undertake here next month that we do annually,” said Inglese. “It is a request in dollars as to what the board is requesting to bill the taxpayers. The bond and interest tax levy itself is determined at the time of the issuance of the bonds.”

The district’s annual bond and interest tax levy is around $9 million per year, according to Inglese.

“The proposal on the ballot is essentially to continue that amount, that $9 million, for the next 20 or so years as these bonds are paid off,” he said.

Inglese also discussed how the district will account for interest rates.

“Since we are only levying $9 million per year, that interest is whatever it is at the time we issue those bonds and we back into those costs,” Inglese said. “You’re going to buy a car for example, and you go to the dealer and the salesman asks, ‘What can you afford?’ In this case, we can afford $9 million. You walked into the dealership depending on what the interest rate is at that time, that’s going to determine what kind of car you can buy.”

“Because of construction schedules and when bills would be paid, we’d be issuing those bonds in probably three or four, maybe five batches over the course of five years,” Inglese said.

Superintendent Lisa Hichens said that the board often received questions about why H.C Storm and Louise White schools would be demolished.

“Our job isn’t to convince [people to vote] one way or the other, but to inform,” she said.

Inglese said that both schools also had an issue with swaying walls that were originally designed to be movable, but that feature was never used and it now presented safety concerns.

“[The schools] weren’t built right, they were built, frankly, on the cheap and they’ve been problematic ever since,” Inglese said. “Now that they are almost 45 years old, there’s a heck of a lot of work that needs to be done to them, including the roof.”