Parsing some numbers

Oneonta school tax debate

1. The amount of money in Oneonta City Schools’ capital outlay accounts has become a subject of controversy. Some have estimated the amount to be in the $4 million to $7 million range – substantially greater than the $2.1 to $2.5 million cited on occasion by proponents of the system’s Building the Legacy plan.

According to Oneonta City Board of Education member Don Maples, the total amount of money on deposit at the bank is a little above $6 million. Of that total, only about half, $3.1 million, is in what could be considered accessible capital funds, Maples said. The remaining half is in funds designated as operating funds, some unrestricted, some restricted by federal regulations for use only for specific purposes, not including capital projects.

“We’ve never said we would not use some of that money on capital projects if it became necessary,” Maples said.

2. Proponents have estimated the $10 million Building the Legacy capital plan to be about 75 to 80 percent devoted to academics vs. about 20 to 25 percent for athletics. Opponents have challenged that breakdown. Maples confirmed those percentages were approximate early stage estimates, but in his opinion will prove to be basically accurate when the final plan is bid and priced out project by project.

3. Questions have been raised about the amount of the annual alcohol tax and the uses to which it is put. Answer, according to Superintendent Daniel Smith: $24, 713.89 in 2017. Money was used to help pay salaries and benefits for four part-time teachers.

4. Additional points cited by Smith:

• Oneonta’s current property tax in mills is 12.66 percent below the state average.

• A high-performing school results in higher property values and economic growth. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, for every $1 invested in a local school system, home values increase $20.

• The Oneonta City Board of Education appreciates the Oneonta City Council’s action in adopting a resolution to support the school tax initiative, and thanks them for the continued support for and partnership with the school system.