Vestal residents are hitting the polls to vote on their school budget. The district has been under fire recently for its proposed 1.4 percent tax increase. Vince Briga breaks down where the controversy stems from, and how some residents are feeling ahead of Tuesday's vote.
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Vestal residents are speaking out against a tax hike after the school district recently approved a 1.4 percent increase.
That would raise taxes between $22 and $32 per home assessed at a $100,000 home.
"They shouldn't have to raise taxes. Myself, I think that they're overtaxing the people," said Markus Smith.
The backlash comes as a result of the district's reserve fund, which sits at about $6 million. Vestal has been audited in the past for keeping the fund too high. But according to the district, the balance is used to protect taxpayers from significant spikes in their tax rate every year.
"The District holds reserve funds for specific expenditures that are expected to be incurred at an unknown but later date," according to Superintendent Jeffrey J. Ahearn.
But some disagree. Most residents Spectrum News spoke to opposed the move, saving money from the reserves could actually go to lower their taxes.
"They're putting money, redoing the building and security and everything, take some of that extra money. I realize that they need a cushion," said Smith.
But the superintendent countered, “The theory of being able to cut property taxes in half would assume the liquidation of all reserve funds, a decision that would not be financially prudent and would expose the district's tax base to a significant level of risk."
The legal limit for unassigned fund balance is four percent of the following year’s budget, which the district says it has been in compliance with.
Polls will be open Tuesday at all five Vestal elementary schools from noon to 9 p.m.