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Just the Facts Information About the #brighterunited 2019 Capital Project

The Greenburgh Central School District was recently informed that some erroneous information is being circulated and we would like to address that here. Please see below the concerns and the facts:

Concern:

The District states that the total sum of the bond to be paid by taxpayers is $114.6 million. However, once the projected interest of $82,130,765 is added, that amount will actually be $195,756,356.

Fact:

Greenburgh CSD is asking taxpayers to approve the borrowing of $114.6M to finance the project, which correlates to an average tax increase of $14.00 per month per $100,000 assessed home value inclusiveof the projected interest over the course of 30 years as has been stated since the proposal became public. The tax impact incurred by Greenburgh taxpayers WILL NOT INCREASE beyond that amount. New York State Education Department guidelines substantiate that we must design and work within the voter-approved bond limit.

Concern:

It is not clear whether GCSD will exercise the option to have the bond rated by Moody’s, S&P or Fitch. An investment-grade rating (equal to or above a Baa/BBB) would lower interest rates, were it attainable.

Facts:

Moody’s Investor Services rated Greenburgh Central School District as having a very high quality credit rating of Aa2 as recently as March 8, 2019. This is above the median of Aa3 for schools across America. Greenburgh’s Aa2 rating reflects not only a “very strong capacity to meet [the district’s] financial commitments”, but also “an extremely small debt burden”.

Concern:

Woodlands High School renovations are NOT part of the bond (but are related to it). Greenburgh’s 2018 Building Condition Survey indicates $26 million needed for those renovations, but the District leadership suggests that number is actually $47.3 million.

Facts:

It is true that none of the $47 million in upgrades to Woodlands are included in the $114.6 million bond proposal. All costs related to the High School were removed from an initial bond proposal to reduce overall cost in response to community feedback. The $26 million outlined in Greenburgh’s 2018 Building Condition Survey is the amount to address only the repairs required to bring the High School up to code. The $47 million dollar figure includes all requisite repairs and additional upgrades to bring our High School to parity with others in the region who have ample space equipped with modern technology and appointment to best serve our students and support our outstanding programs.

It remains our intention to address all of the needs – required repairs and additional upgrades – at Woodlands through future budgets, as well as offsetting those costs by applying funds gotten through the future sales of Highview and RJ Bailey (see below for more on this topic) and through an Energy Performance Contract. We envision being able to do this while remaining under the tax cap.

Concern:

The District’s proposed annual budget for 2019/2020 is $71,000,000, and set for a May vote.

Facts:

The District is still in the final stages of finalizing its 2019/2020 budget. No official numbers have been reached or released.

Concern:

RJ Bailey and Highview were assessed at $20.85 million by PATJO Appraisal Services, Inc. This is NOT a sale price. In 2008, NYSED estimated the fair-market sale price for the two properties at $2.5 million to $5 million. The two properties are zoned for single-family homes (plus a few other, potential uses), not condos or commercial buildings, which significantly limits their value to developers.

Facts:

The $20 million market valuation of RJ Bailey and Highview is based on a current market analysis of both properties, and documentation of each is available at the District website.

The document referenced is a “Memorandum in Support of Legislation”, and should not be construed to be either a study or an appraisal. An appraisal is required to set the value of real estate properties, and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) does not have an office that carries out appraisals. The author of the memorandum chose carefully to use the term “estimate” in explaining their view, as the Memorandum lacks any appraisal to back up said estimate. Note that there is also no mention of “fair-market sale price” within the Memorandum.

The statement, “In 2008, NYSED estimated the fair-market sale price for the two properties at $2.5M-$5M”, is taken out of context from a bill which did not even make it to the Senate floor in 2014-15.

Further, any potential buyer of the RJ Bailey and Highview buildings would have the opportunity to seek Town approval for changes to current zoning, opening up wide development potential for both properties.

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