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Ensuring Safe Water, Reliable Buses Through Bond Measures

When voters in the North Salem Central School District head to the polls this May, they'll have an opportunity to secure vital facility and operational improvements for years to come. The district is presenting two bond propositions to address infrastructure needs in a fiscally responsible manner.

The first proposition would use a 16-year bond to fund the $715,000 renovation of the water treatment plant at Pequenakonck Elementary School. Last year, the district completed the North Salem Middle/High School upgrade, installing filters and other improvements to remove minerals that cause brown water and clog fixtures, as well as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) from the well water. The elementary school requires the same improvements to ensure clean, safe drinking water.

If voters approve, work on the new water plant can commence over this summer break. After multiple revisions with the Westchester County Board of Health, permit approvals took more than three years to finalize. Delaying funding would risk losing these permits and existing company bids, leading to further cost increases as the process starts again.

The second proposition addresses purchasing vehicles, modernizing the transportation fleet's security and communications, and providing labor-saving ground equipment. The five-year bond will replace the oldest buses and vans that have traveled over 200,000 miles and are approaching the end of their 15-year lifespan. Of the $513,016 bond, $100,000 will be invested in new security technology to modernize radios, cameras, and GPS systems in all district buses and vans to improve safety and response time.

This proposal includes purchasing new groundskeeping machinery to improve the maintenance crew's productivity. With these upgraded tools, the team will be able to operate on sloped areas of campuses and significantly decrease the mowing time, allowing the completion of other projects more efficiently.

Delaying funding for this proposition could result in increased maintenance costs due to an aging fleet, emergency fleet replacement costs, or longer and disrupted student routes, as older vehicles may break down.

"This proposition is an investment in the safety, security, and productivity of our transportation and facilities operations," said Superintendent Duncan Wilson. "It allows us to look down the road consciously and sustainably, rather than reacting to crises with costly emergency repairs and replacements."

The bond propositions are designed to achieve long-term improvements through sensible fiscal practices. The district can fund the projects gradually by borrowing smaller sums as required instead of taking on the entire debt upfront. This approach will minimize the tax and educational impact compared to shouldering the total cost through the annual operating budget.

In the past, the district has used bonds to fund long-term investments, including infrastructure and vehicles, allowing us to spread the impact of costly capital projects over several years," said Board Trustee Deborah D'Agostino. "By managing our debt in this manner, we can make funds available for important projects such as water filtration without exceeding the budget cap."