Meeting set to explain upcoming property tax referendum

A meeting to explain the need for a proposed property tax increase for Oneonta City Schools, involved in the upcoming referendum of Oneonta voters, has been scheduled for next week.

The meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at Oneonta High School’s Eris Horton Auditorium, Oneonta City Board of Education chairman Patrick Adams announced last week. The meeting is intended for parents; the public is invited. The referendum, affecting all residents living within the corporate limits of Oneonta, has been set for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018.

“The Oneonta City Board of Education and the Build on the Legacy committee are pursuing a property tax increase to fund much -needed upgrades and expansions for the school system,” Superintendent Daniel Smith said. “Our school system needs various facility upgrades such as classroom additions for the elementary school, band and music room expansions, and athletic facility upgrades and expansions, to name a few. This meeting, for any and all interested community members, will be held in the high school auditorium on Monday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. Our desire is to inform the voters of the community for the vote on Feb. 20, 2018.”

Adams also commented: “Our purpose is to help people educate themselves as to what we’re asking for and why. We’re asking that citizens inform themselves so they can make a reasoned decision, and don’t jump to conclusions until they’ve heard the facts as to our present and future needs and our financial outlook as we continue to build on our outstanding legacy for the future.”

If passed, the tax increase would produce about $630,000 annually in new revenue for the city school system. A 2013 5-mill ad valorem school tax referendum in Oneonta failed by a single vote. The election is expected to cost about $25,000, and will be borne by the Oneonta City Board of Education. Background and examples

On Oct. 30, the Oneonta City Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution calling for an election requesting the levy of a 9-mill increase in ad valorem taxes on residential and business/commercial property in School District 3, the area lying within the corporate limits of Oneonta.

The board issued a statement addressing the need for the increase in school revenues. It read in part: “Due to current and future enrollment growth, we are experiencing extraordinary capital, facility, and operational needs in the Oneonta school system….This request is to assure parents and residents of Oneonta that the facilities are in place to meet those and other present and imminent needs…”

On Nov. 13, the Blount County Commission passed a resolution ordering a special election to be held Feb. 20, 2018, in Oneonta to determine whether to levy a 9-mill tax on the assessed value of taxable property for public school purposes. The duration of the tax would be 30 years, with the tax period beginning Oct. 1, 2017, and becoming payable on Oct. 1, 2018.”

Examples of the impact of the 9-mill increase, if approved:

• a residence with a fair market value of $100,000 would pay an additional $90 per year.

• a commercial or rental property with a fair market value of $100,000 would pay an additional $180 per year.

• a residence worth $300,000 would pay an additional $270 per year.

• a business or commercial property worth $300,000 would pay an additional $540 per year.