OA Superintendent: No tax increase for new elementary school

By Jillian Marshall

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 12:03 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Owego Elementary School is nearing construction and administrators say there will be no tax increase for people living in the school district.

A public information meeting on the new project and how it will be financed was held Tuesday night at Owego Free Academy.

The old Owego Elementary was flooded in September 2011.

"The sooner we can get into our new building the happier I'll be," said parent and Owego Elementary teacher Stacey Silvestri.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Russell says the new 120,000-square-foot school will be state-of-the-art and will be energy efficient with geothermal heating and air conditioning. There will also be digital control of all climate systems, LED lighting and security systems.

The school is proposed to be built where the old school was located. Russell says this will keep the schools at the heart of the Owego community.

The new facility will be built four feet above the 500-year flood plain.

While taxpayers of the Owego Apalachin School District are happy about the construction, some are worried about how the financing will affect them.

Russell says it's a simple answer: It won't.

The district secured funding from five different sources and they will be able to build the estimated $55 million school with no additional taxes from the community.

Russell says approximately 62 percent of the funding will come from FEMA, a little more than 20 percent from New York State Emergency Management, 13 percent from New York State Building Aid, 2.1 percent from OA's capital reserves, and more than 1.5 percent from flood insurance.

The school district will have to borrow approximately $9.6 million in serial bonds, which will be paid off in full with state building aid after construction.

"We're very proud of the fact that we put a funding package together that does not include any new taxes for the taxpayers in Owego and Apalachin, which is very important for a community that has gone through what we've gone through," Russell said.

There is a referendum vote on Oct. 22.

The community will vote on two propositions: To authorize the borrowing of $9.6 million and spending about $1.54 million from the district's capital reserve fund.

Voting will take place from noon to 8 p.m. at Apalachin Elementary School and Owego Free Academy.

There is another information meeting Oct. 15.

If the referendum passes, construction will start in November. The school is set to open in the fall of 2015.