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School budgets put up for vote

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — May 16, 2008 — On Tuesday, voters will have their say on 2008-2009 school budgets – and often much more – around Sullivan County.
Take a look at what the eight public districts within the county are proposing:
Eldred voters will be asked to approve a $16,559,859 budget, representing an $828,283, or 5.27 percent, increase over last year’s version.
Taxes are projected to rise 6.19 percent as a result, due in part to increased fuel, salary, and health and retirement benefits costs.
Three other matters will require voters’ attention. Proposition #2 will allow the district to collect $10,000 in taxes for the Sunshine Free Library’s operation, while Proposition #3 will permit the district to transfer $550,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to the Capital Project Fund in anticipation of renovations at both the Junior-Senior High School in Eldred and the Mackenzie Elementary School in Glen Spey.
One five-year board seat is open, as well. Linda Bohs and Michael Halloran are vying to replace retiring board member Robert Burrow.
Voting will take place Tuesday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. inside the Junior-Senior High School along Route 55 in Eldred.
For more information, call 557-6141.
Fallsburg is proposing a $36,034,000 budget, up $2,744,864 over last year’s, representing an 8.25 percent increase.
The tax increase amounts to 2.7 percent, which officials say is due to a reduction in the amount of prior years’ available fund balance and the rate of increase in non-expenditure state aid being below the rate of inflation – not to mention salary and benefits increases, plus fuel prices.
Voters will also be asked to choose three board members, each for a three-year term. Candidates are running for specific seats. Melvyn Mednick is unopposed in his re-election bid, but incumbent Robert Hunter will face challenger Denise Wallace Fore. Robin Bedik is not seeking re-election, but her seat features three contestants: Joseph A. Collura, Tyrone Finn Sr. and Albert Braun.
Voting will take place Tuesday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. inside the High School Library along County Route 52 in Fallsburg.
For more information, call 434-5884.
Liberty voters are being presented with a proposed $36,654,645 budget, an increase of $1,216,413, or 3.43 percent, over last year’s budget.
Taxes are projected to increase by one percent, due to fuel, salary and benefits increases.
Two three-year board seats are up for grabs, though only two candidates – Christine Schiff and incumbent Michael McGuire – are seeking them. Current board member Cathy Smith is not seeking re-election.
On Tuesday, voters can head to the High School Gym along Buckley Street in Liberty between 1 and 9 p.m.
For more information, call 292-6990.
Livingston Manor
Livingston Manor is proposing a $14,309,044 budget, $667,923 (or 4.9 percent) higher than last year’s.
The projected tax increase is pegged at 3.37 percent due to increased fuel and special education costs.
Two other propositions will be on the ballot. Proposition #2 will ask voters to approve a $2,000 increase in the Livingston Manor Free Library’s tax levy (from the current total of $69,500 to $71,500), for which the district is authorized to collect taxes.
Proposition #3 will seek permission to bus K-12 students who live at least one-quarter-of-a-mile from the school. Currently, the district only buses students who live at least one mile from the school. The cost to close that distance will not be higher than $98,820 and is already accounted for in the proposed district budget.
Two people will be asking voters to name them to two three-year board seats: incumbent Edna Simpson and Debra Miller, who will replace a retiring Robert Johaneman on the board.
Polls will be open on Tuesday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. inside the old gym off School Street in Livingston Manor.
For more information, call 439-4400.
Being the most populated district in the county, Monticello also has the biggest proposed budget, coming in at $73,806,760. That’s an increase of $3,994,044, or 5.72 percent, over last year’s.
The resulting tax increase will also be 5.72 percent, due mainly to higher fuel costs and inflation.
A second proposition will ask voters to approve the purchase of three replacement buses for $330,000, up to 65 percent of which may be reimbursed by state aid.
Three three-year board seats are open, with the highest vote-getters gaining those seats. Candidates include incumbents Alyce Van Etten and Liza Glick plus newcomers Vincent Gilmore, Marta Mangual, Barbara O’Rourke and Pedro Torres. Vivian Gambino Liff is not seeking re-election.
Voting will take place on Tuesday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Forestburgh Town Hall along Route 42 in Forestburgh (District 5), the Rock Hill Firehouse along County Route 58 in Rock Hill (District 4), the Emma C. Chase Elementary School on Pennsylvania Avenue in Wurtsboro (District 3), the Cornelius Duggan Elementary School on Route 55 in White Lake (District 2) and the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School off Route 42 in Monticello (District 1).
For more information (including where you will vote), call 794-7700 or log on to
Roscoe voters will be asked to approve a $7,315,421 budget, amounting to $348,353, or five percent, more than last year.
The tax increase is projected to be 4.18 percent, due to increases in special education, transportation and program costs, plus salaries and benefits.
There will be two other propositions, as well. Proposition #2 will ask voters to increase the Roscoe Free Library’s tax levy by $3,000 from $33,000 to $36,000. The district is authorized to collect the library’s taxes.
Proposition #3 will seek approval to fund a $1.2 million renovation project with state aid and $425,000 from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund. Little to no tax levy impact is expected in the effort to reconstruct the heating and ventilation systems and remove asbestos.
As for the two three-year board seats, Lynn Wachter and incumbent Tasse Niforatos will be on the ballot. Phil Eggleton is not seeking re-election.
On Tuesday, voters will be able to visit the Roscoe School Auditorium on Academy Street in Roscoe between 12:30 and 8 p.m. to make their choices.
For more information, call 607-498-4126 or log on to
Sullivan West
Sullivan West is proposing a $33,317,031 budget – exactly the same as the one adopted last year.
However, taxes are projected to rise 4.9 percent, in an effort to stabilize the large swings in levies over the past few years. To accomplish that, the district is weaning itself off the excessive use of the fund balance through a five-year financial plan, and moderate tax increases will be part of that.
Three other propositions will require voters’ attention, as well. Proposition #2 will seek permission to decrease the size of the school board from nine members to seven.
Brought up by some board members, the board could not come to a consensus on such a concept and thus decided to let voters choose.
Should they agree to the idea, the board will likely gradually be reduced to that size through attrition rather than asking any particular member to step aside. In other words, it is entirely possible the board won’t hit the seven-member mark until at least July of next year.
Proposition #3 will ask voters to allow the board to appoint a high school student as a non-voting board member, entitled to sit in on all public board discussions but not private executive sessions.
Proposition #4 will seek the establishment of a Capital Reserve Fund to stow up to $8 million in anticipation of major building projects, particularly the completion of the high school’s athletic fields in Lake Huntington.
The initial funding will come from suits or claims successfully undertaken by the district and an annual budget appropriation from the undesignated fund balance (the year-to-year surplus). The fund will exist for the next 10 years, if approved.
Three three-year board seats are open, but only the incumbents - Angela Daley, Anna Niemann and Mary K. Scheutzow – are running for them.
Voting will take place Tuesday from 12-9 p.m. at the Delaware Youth Center on Creamery Road in Callicoon (District 1), the Sullivan West Elementary School on Schoolhouse Road in Jeffersonville (District 2) and the Tusten-Cochecton Branch of the Western Sullivan Public Library on Bridge Street in Narrowsburg (District 3).
For more information (including where you will vote), call 482-4610 or 932-8401, or log on to
Tri-Valley voters will be offered a $29,524,478 proposed budget, up $1,368,385 (or 4.86 percent) from last year’s.
Taxes are estimated to climb by 2.96 percent, due to increased fuel and utilities costs, plus a renegotiated five-year transportation contract.
Another proposition will ask voters to approve the $2.14 million replacement of three boilers and upgrade of the school’s heating system. Due to $392,000 in EXCEL aid and the use of $397,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund, the district will bond approximately $1.7 million to cover the cost.
Four people will be vying for the three open board seats, with the highest vote-getters earning berths. Incumbents Scott Mickelson, Joyce Hartman and Kathy Denman are all seeking re-election, while Vern Lindquist has thrown his hat into the ring as well.
Voting will take place Tuesday from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. inside the main gymnasium off Route 55 and Moore Hill Road in Grahamsville.
For more information, call 985-2296.

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