Residents to vote on building upgrade

The 55-cent per $1,000 of assessed value tax hike would mean another $10 per month in school taxes for an average, $221,000 house in the district. Those figures don't take into account any tax effect from the $4.6 billion AMD chip manufacturing facility to be built in Malta, however, and the enrollment estimates don't consider any growth that might come along with it. Construction on the factory, which is promised to supply 1,465 permanent jobs, is to begin in 2009.

For members of the Milton Grange, a 50-member community group, the cost to taxpayers is too much to ask in the current environment.

"We're not saying that some of the things they're thinking about doing in the referendum are not right," said Grange President Sam Becker, adding, "You're asking taxpayers to come out with another 120-some-odd dollars per year, and it's going to be tough."

He also questioned the necessity of the upgrade, pointing to estimates that the middle school's enrollment is set to decrease by 2012.

Dragone said that just isn't the case. The district's predictions call for relatively flat growth, and will still see the building 20 percent overcrowded in three years.

"If we weren't overcrowded, we wouldn't get the state aid," said Dragone.

State aid will cover 79 percent of the project's cost. Dragone said it is unlikely to funding will be affected by the ongoing efforts to shore up the state budget, where cuts to education are proposed for programming, not facilities.

"The justification of the need for this project was approved overwhelmingly by the state, and that's the first blessing you need," said Dragone.

Voters will decide whether to give their blessing from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday. Malta residents should vote at Malta Town Hall, and residents of Milton, Ballston and Charlton should vote in the high school library.

District officials have been presenting the plans and answering questions in a series of meetings across the area. The last will take place on Monday, Dec. 8, at the Sunset CafE on Front Street in Ballston Spa.""

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