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Cairo-Durham capital project narrowly passes

Mosaic Associates Partner John Jojo discusses the $28.9 million Cairo-Durham Central School District capital project at the school board’s Nov. 19 meeting.
December 12, 2018 04:50 pm

DURHAM — Voters in the Cairo-Durham Central School District narrowly approved a $28.9 million capital project 284-263 on Tuesday.

The project will modernize outdated classrooms, create new cutting-edge science labs, create a single point of entry at the middle and high school for security purposes and repair athletic fields.

Asked if he was disturbed by the proposal’s slim margin of passage, District Superintendent Anthony Taibi said he did not have any expectations of how the vote was going to come out. He thanked the community for its support of the project, which will directly benefit students.

“We take the responsibility of planning a project very seriously,” Taibi said. “We always try to be as fiscally responsible as we can be.”

Feedback about the project was mostly positive, Taibi said. Residents told Taibi the project was communicated effectively and he commonly heard from residents about the project’s overall size and the taxpayer impact.

“Everybody felt like they were informed,” he said. “We were really addressing all those critical areas.”

The annual local share, or the difference between the bond payments and the building aid, will be $699,658 over 22 years, totaling $15.3 million, District Business Administrator Jeffrey Miriello said in November.

Funding sources include $2.4 million in capital reserves and fund balance from the Cairo-Durham school budget and $11.1 million from state building aid.

The tax impact rate is 0.3375 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $33.75 annually on a home assessed at $100,000, or $67.50 annually on a home assessed at $200,000, Miriello said. The impact cannot be over 2 percent.

The district is committed to bring costs under budget to further lessen the burden on taxpayers over the next two budget cycles, Taibi said.

“We have the obligation and the responsibility to communicate what the largest impact could be,” he said. “It’s our intention and hope to bring that in below 2 percent.”

Had the proposal been defeated, Taibi, the board of education and other stakeholders would have reassessed the project and looked at ways of reworking it and put it back out for discussion, Taibi said.

Regular maintenance and upkeep of district facilities was included in the proposal.

“We’d have to be doing a project to maintain our facilities,” Taibi said.

The timing of the Dec. 11 vote allows time for the project to be presented to state Education Department and it will take 40 weeks for it to be approved, Miriello said in November.

Work on the capital project is expected to begin in summer 2020 and be completed by fall 2022, according to a statement from the district.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.