From the Superintendent's Desk

Waterford-Halfmoon UFSD

October 2, 2020

Hello to all,

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made a huge impact on the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. There have been many challenges to overcome but as we enter the month of October, the staff and students have settled in to the daily routines of the school day and it is great to see our students enjoying their learning experiences here at Waterford-Halfmoon.

Another huge impact to the school and this community was the recent settlement of the tax certiorari case with Momentive Performance Materials Company. The lowered assessment of Momentive's property resulted in all of the other taxpayers in the community having to make up the difference. The community is certainly upset with their increased school tax bills and rightfully so! We appreciate our taxpayers' concerns and understand the distress that the Momentive tax certiorari case has caused the members of our community. While we recognize the impact of this case was great, please rest assured the District worked collaboratively with the Town of Waterford to minimize the impact to the extent possible. 

One of the questions that has been raised due to the 2020-2021 school taxes is what can be anticipated for the 2021-2022 school budget and school taxes. The answer to this question is driven primarily by two factors: 

The District’s 2021-22 Tax Levy

The Board of Education and District leadership remain committed to adopting a budget which is funded by a tax levy that is within the NYS tax levy limit (tax cap). In light of the strain that the Momentive tax certiorari case has placed on our community, the Board of Education and District leadership plan to do all that is possible to ensure the tax levy increase for 2021-22 is as minimal as possible. With that being said, school districts across NYS have been burdened with the potential of a 20% reduction in State aid, which is the second largest revenue used to finance our District’s operations. If these potential reductions continue into 2021-22 the District must evaluate ways to increase revenues (which may include a tax levy increase), decrease appropriations (which may result in a reduction of services) or design a budget which includes both. Unfortunately, we will not know what our tax levy needs will be until the spring of 2021. However again, I would like to emphasize that the Board of Education is committed to adopting a budget with a tax levy increase that is as minimal as possible. 

The District’s Tax Base for 2021-22

The District’s tax base (total taxable assessed value) also plays a significant role in actual tax rate (and therefore tax bill) increases. If the District’s tax base decreases, even if the District’s tax levy does not, it will cause our tax rate to increase (proportionate to the decrease in taxable assessed value). Conversely, if the District’s tax base increases and the tax levy remains the same, tax rates, and therefore tax bills, may decrease. Unfortunately again, this is not information that we will have until the spring and summer of 2021. 

I apologize that we do not have a more straightforward answer to these questions. I can reassure you though, that at the time of this letter, the District is not facing any tax certiorari cases that would pose the same risk of loss of tax base that was seen with the Momentive tax certiorari case.

Please stay safe and have a peaceful fall season!


Patrick Pomerville