By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY May 20, 2005 In an unusual turn of events, budget proposals at three of the countys eight school districts were defeated Tuesday.
The boards of education at the Eldred, Monticello and Sullivan West central schools are all headed back to the drawing board with three options.
Each could put the same budget out to the voters for a second attempt at seeing it passed, they could adjust the budget and put new figures out to the voters, or they could move to immediately approve a contingency budget.
Voters in Sullivan West spoke the loudest, saying a resounding no to the $29.6 million budget proposal with a 2 to 1 margin 1,355 to 768.
The proposal, which would have meant an 18.82 percent increase for taxpayers, would also have closed the Delaware Valley and Narrowsburg elementary schools and necessitated large cuts in staff.
The board was scheduled to meet on the matter last night.
In Eldred, where a $12.5 million proposal was shot down by a margin of 40 votes, 371 to 331, the board and administration are putting their heads together and exploring the options.
The board of education will hold a special budget workshop before convening in public session at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, to discuss the options in front of the public.
Superintendent Ivan Katz said crafting a budget for the district has already been a lengthy and challenging process.
The challenges started in September with the Mirant settlement, which will have us paying back $1.6 million, Katz explained.
The tax assessment challenge alone drove the districts budget into the double figures, Katz said.
Then they discovered drainage issues at the elementary school, and the numbers got worse.
For the first time, community members were invited to come in for an open discourse with the board of education as the budget was developed.
We felt things were moving on a positive level, Katz explained.
But of the three propositions facing Eldred voters, two were defeated.
Voters also said no to the purchase of 20 security cameras at the cost of $20,000 by a margin of 422 to 220.
What to do about that proposition is also up to the board, Katz said.
It went down by a significant ratio, and Im sure theyll take that into consideration, he said.
If the district were to move to a contingency budget right off the bat, Katz said the district would have to shave $831,000 from the proposal defeated on Tuesday. A contingency budget would increase taxes 4.47 percent.
The $60.3 million budget proposal shot down by Monticello voters lost by the slimmest of margins just 672 nays to 663 ayes.
The proposal would have resulted in a 9.27 percent tax levy increase.
The Monticello Board of Education had scheduled a special meeting for yesterday evening to begin discussing its next move.
Following are the rest of the budget and board election results:
Voters in the Eldred district said yes to one of the propositions on the ballot Tuesday by a margin of just two votes.
Voters approved the purchases of a 60-65-passenger bus and a nine-passenger bus 338 to 336.
Ray Henry earned a five-year term on the board of education, and Stephen Glasser will be returning for one year to fill the unexpired term of his wife, the late Marsha Hunter.
The only proposition up for voters to decide on in Fallsburg, the $28 million budget proposal, was approved 273 to 178.
The taxpayers also decided to keep the current slate on the board of education.
Robin Bedik received 267 votes to regain her seat while Melvyn Mednick garnered 254 to reclaim his spot on the board. Both ran unopposed.
Incumbent Thomas Zuewsky soundly beat his opponents, earning 266 votes to Theresa Trujillos 76 and Edward Madisons 93.
Both propositions facing the Liberty community passed muster.
The $31.7 million budget proposal earned 387 yes votes to prevail over the 325 nays.
Voters cast 421 yesses and 227 nos on the proposition to make repairs to remediate water infiltration issues at the middle school.
That project, the cost of which was not to exceed $375,000, was already covered by monies in the districts capital reserve fund. With the voter approval, repairs can now be made to to the library roof, the corridors which connect the middle and high schools and the north side of the middle school classroom wing.
An at-large board of education election netted incumbent Armand Seibert 442 votes, Cathie Smith 474 votes and John Milano 361. All three won three-year seats on the board. Peter Racette earned 351 votes, but with the lowest vote tally he did not earn a berth on the board.
Four propositions put up by the Livingston Manor Central School District received a thumbs-up from the public.
The $12 million budget was approved by a tally of 283 votes to 120, and a proposal to form a capital reserve fund for future projects earned 259 yes votes and just 138 nos.
Voters also chose to allocate $100,000 in district monies to make repairs to the schools clock tower. That money will be put in the newly formed capital reserve with 277 yes votes and 121 nos.
A final proposition to turn the board of education election process into an at-large system also gained approval 222 to 169.
The Tuesday board election followed the traditional process, however.
Incumbent Robert Johaneman faced off against Cathy Mead and Gregory Clarke, defending his seat with 242 votes.
His opponents had 118 and 26 votes respectively.
Also holding onto her seat on the board was incumbent Edna Simpson, who earned 208 votes. Her challenger, Bryan Lamerand, earned 181.
With one of the slimmest margins in the county, incumbent Vivian Gambino-Liff held onto her seat on the Monticello Board of Education.
Gambino-Liff earned 582 votes, just four more than opponent Yvonne Housman, who had 578.
Voters in the Roscoe Central School District had the opportunity to vote on three different propositions Tuesday, and all three were approved.
A $5.9 million budget proposal earned 167 ayes and 88 nays while the proposition to increase the districts support of the Roscoe Free Library from $25,000 to $30,000 garnered 163 yesses to 78 nays.
The public also voted 172 to 62 to adopt an at-large system of electing members to the board of education.
This years election ran on the old system, with incumbent Phil Eggleton facing off against Roberta Rehwaldt.
Eggleton regained his seat with 168 votes to Rehwaldts 85.
Tasse Niforatos earned 214 votes to succeed Howard Huck in a three-year term.
Residents of the Sullivan West District elected three new members to the board of education, welcoming back only incumbent Arthur Norden.
Norden claimed 1,003 votes, while challenger John Reggero had just 774 for a three-year term.
Incumbent Bill Erdman earned 511 votes, but it wasnt enough to beat challenger Jennifer Mann, who won the three-year seat with 760. Nancy Peters, who was running for the same position, had 711 votes.
Anna Niemann earned a three-year post on the board with 1,034 votes. Her opponent, Ken Uy, earned 656.
Catherine Novak garnered 878 to claim a two-year seat on the board. Opponent Matthew Kleiner had 790.
The $24.5 million budget proposal in the Tri-Valley district passed this year with 479 yes votes and 385 nays.
Voters also said yes to the lease of three small buses (474 to 297) and one large bus (475 to 292).
In the at-large board election, Joyce Hartman earned 576 votes to gain a seat on the board.
Incumbents Kathy Denman and Scott Mickelson were re-elected with 502 votes and 452 votes, respectively.
Incumbent George Dean had 403 votes, and Erik Coddington had 350.