South Colonie voters OK buses, reject press box

South Colonie Central School District residents voted Thursday, Oct. 23, to add seven school buses at the cost of $634,000 to their existing fleet, but they rejected the construction of a new press box at Colonie Central High School to replace the existing one which, according to state regulators, does not meet safety standards.

According to Director of Communications for the South Colonie Central School District John Noetzel, the votes were 893 in favor of the buses, 868 against; and 805 in favor of the press box, 929 against.

Board of Education President Tim Ryan said the votes at the Veeder Elementary School polling area, a section of the district that borders the Town of Niskayuna, were 3-to-1 against the press box.

I think that those residents were expressing their frustrations with their [school tax bills], said Ryan.

Several Niskayuna residents who live within the South Colonie Central School District boundaries were shocked this September when they received their school tax bills, which showed they owed several hundred dollars more than what they paid the previous year. This was the result mostly of the Town of Niskayuna conducting a full-assessment evaluation on all houses in the town, while the Town of Colonie's assessment is only at 67 percent of full value.

Colonie town officials have said the town simply does not have the resources to conduct a townwide full-assessment evaluation at this time.

Also contributing to the higher-than-normal Niskayuna tax bills were several tax certiorari lawsuits that were won by businesses in the town, shifting the tax burden to residential property owners. Ryan said that, although there was nothing the school district could do for those homeowners, he could understand their frustrations.

The bus proposition, which did pass, calls for five 66-passenger school buses to be purchased at $103,500 per vehicle; one 24-passenger/two-wheelchair bus to be purchased at $107,500; and one seven-passenger Suburban transportation vehicle to be purchased at $34,000.

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