By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FONDA -- The Fonda Fulton-ville Central School District may cut its $19.8 million bond proposal by $450,000; the amount needed for a simple majority vote.
That option was discussed at length during Wednesday's board of education meeting, in which the board and district administrators considered how they would proceed with the capital project that failed in May to get a super-majority of votes.
"One of the options we are looking at is going below our debt limit," district treasurer Carey Shultz told the board. "One of the first things I started to look at is what number we need to get to a 50 percent-plus-one majority vote."
Shultz said since the May 20 vote, there has been a shift in the calculation of the debt limit, which has increased the amount the district can borrow. Originally, for a simple majority vote, the district was able to borrow a maximum of $17.25 million by the year 2017. By shifting the timeline, that number has now jumped to $19.7 million by 2018.
However, Shultz advised the board to consider a maximum amount of $19.4 million.
"That would be reachable with a 50 percent vote," he said. "We did talk about going out for the $19.8 million, but you are batting that same 60 percent vote. I just think you have a better chance."
Superintendent Raymond Colucciello said the new amount is a change from the original proposal of $25 million last year, which was eventually cut to the $19.8 million.
"We have been as conservative as possible," he said.
The board discussed a number of options in deciding what to cut to reduce the bottom line by $450,000.
Architect Michael J. Harris of Bernier, Carr & Associates, said instead of cutting projects, the board has the option to reduce the contingency amount -- the additional funds added for unexpected costs.
However, board member Mary Frollo was opposed to the idea, saying the money was put there for a reason.
"I personally have been more comfortable having a cushion," she said. "Things happen. If you cut, that we don't have nothing."
Shultz said that not all of the contingency would be cut, but Frollo said she would rather leave it.
Board member John Wiltey suggested cutting the athletic field and make it a separate proposition on the ballot.
"Let the voters decide," he said.
Harris said the underlying issue with the athletic fields is the drainage problems that need to be corrected. He said the cost comes down to whether the fields are replaced with turf or sod.
"It is a $1 million difference in cost," he said.
Shultz said the only problem with the sod is that it would limit the amount of activity on the field. He added that to go from sod to turf is a $12,000 difference on the average taxpayer, but it is also equivalent to how much the district spends on maintaining a sod field.
Board president Timothy Wendell said the board is in favor of a turf field, and putting it out for a separate vote.
Shultz said the option for a sod field would have to stay in the project, in case the turf field was voted down.
Harris said the only other item that the board could consider cutting is the furniture and equipment allowance for rooms that were being renovated. He explained that work would not be done until the end of the project and the board may be able to use leftover contingency funds or budget the funds to purchase the equipment.
"The bulk of the project is safety and security, energy efficiency, and deferred maintenance. There is not a lot of fluff in there," he said.
Before any decisions are finalized the board plans to meet with other stakeholders in the district. The renovated bond proposal is tentatively scheduled to go before voters at the end of September.