Crucial votes coming May 21
Part 1 of 2
Story by Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY May 10, 2013 Tuesday, May 21 is the day to have your say in the fiscal future of local government in this case, public schools.
Sullivan County’s eight school districts will be holding their annual budget and board votes on that day, and we’ve collected the info you need to know before walking into the polling place.
Please note that to vote you must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a registered voter (with the county’s Board of Elections or, if you wish, just with the district), and a legal resident of the school district for at least the past 30 days.
So have a look, then have your say!
Eldred’s proposed $16,259,864 budget is 2.14 percent higher than the near-$16 million budget for the current year. That translates to an estimated tax levy hike of 4.9 percent, squeaking in underneath the district’s state-mandated tax cap of 4.91 percent.
To reach that number, officials are proposing to cut supplies by more than $84,000, a part-time BOCES-supplied technology support position ($69,300) and driver education ($12,000). One physical education teacher will be laid off, while four retiring teachers and one retiring teaching assistant will not be replaced.
“We did put out a retirement incentive to our faculty, and a number of faculty elected to take the incentive,” said Eldred Superintendent Robert Dufour. “That, coupled with increased state aid and significant cuts to the budget overall, allowed us to submit our budget to the school board for approval.”
Board member Linda Bohs is running unopposed for re-election to a five-year term.
Voters will be asked to make one other decision, as well: whether to approve the Sunshine Free Library’s $1,000 tax levy increase in its annual budget to $14,000 overall.
Polls will be open at the Eldred Junior-Senior High School on Route 55 in Eldred from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
More information can be obtained by calling the district at 456-1100, ext. 5170, or logging on to ecs.schoolwires.com.
Fallsburg’s $36,648,130 proposed budget is 3.11 percent more than the current year’s $35.5 million budget, but with that comes just a .79 percent tax levy hike, the lowest in the county.
No staff or program cuts are included indeed, a pre-K teacher, language teacher and staff resource officer are being added.
“As the Board of Education and the Central Administration began this budget season, we had three goals we wanted to accomplish,” said Supt. Ivan Katz. “The first goal was to come up with a budget that balances what schoolchildren need with what taxpayers can afford. The second goal was to create a minimal impact on the tax levy with that budget. The third goal was to put together a proposed capital project that would allow us to do necessary repairs and replacements at a zero percent increase to the tax levy. As superintendent of schools, I am proud to tell you that we accomplished all three of these things.”
Three board seats are open, each for three-year terms. Arlene Hussey and Robert Whitaker are running to retain their seats, though only Whitaker is opposed, by Miranda Behan. Lorraine Lopez is not running for re-election, and voters have a choice between Debra Barbiani and Denise Wallace Fore.
Voters will also make a choice on an $11 million capital project plan for renovations to the Junior-Senior High School and the Cosor Elementary School.
At no additional cost to taxpayers, the project will include replacing flooring, windows, bathrooms and the fire alarm system, plus expanding the parking lots, all at the elementary school; and renovating bathrooms, locker rooms, the fire alarm system, the roof and the tennis court surface, plus addressing drainage issues and installing an emergency generator, all at the high school. Both buildings will also get a public address system.
Voters are welcome between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Fallsburg High School Library on County Route 52 in Fallsburg.
For more information, call the district at 434-6800, ext. 1215, or log on to www.fallsburgcsd.net.
At $40,965,123, Liberty’s proposed budget is 1.9 percent higher than the current year’s, while the proposed tax levy increase is three percent less than the state-mandated tax cap of 5.85 percent.
No program cuts are projected, and 17 teacher retirements will be the only staff loss in this budget. In fact, two elementary teaching positions will be added due to increasing enrollment, and a part-time school resource officer will become full-time.
An increase in state aid also helped, and Liberty continues to spend down its reserve funds through a five-year plan (now in year three) to stabilize taxes.
“Fund balance and reserves are a one-shot revenue,” said Supt. William Silver. “If we continue to use reserves without replenishing them, it could affect future budgets. Good fiscal planning in recent years has buoyed the district despite the hardships. It would be imprudent to move forward without planning for the next five years.”
Three three-year spots on the board are up for grabs. Incumbents Philip Olsen and Andrew Kavleski are running for re-election, while Joyce Teed is not. John L. Nichols and Malek Rabadi are also hoping to earn a board seat. The top three vote-getters will land a spot on the board.
The Liberty High School’s gymnasium on Buckley Street in Liberty will host the vote from noon to 9 p.m.
For more information, log on to www.libertyk12.org or call 292-6171.
Livingston Manor voters will be presented with a proposed $15,089,772 budget, up 2.62 percent over the current year’s $14.7 million version.
The proposed tax levy hike accompanying it will be 3.5 percent, 1.5 percent less than the state-mandated tax cap for Manor.
All staff and programs will remain, and an elementary teacher will be added due to enrollment growth. Funds have also been set aside for added school security.
“Our primary focus is to ensure our students graduate with the 21st Century skills to make them successful in life,” explained Supt. Deborah Fox. “The Livingston Manor Central School 2013-14 proposed budget puts forward a 2.62 percent increase over the current year's spending plan. This proposed budget maintains all existing programs and personnel to provide a well-rounded, quality education to LMCS students. Tough decisions have been made over recent years to keep the budget within the economic realities we continue to face. The district takes a careful approach to spending as part of our long-term fiscal plan.”
Elaine Lotz’s three-year board seat is up, and she’s running for re-election. Challenging her are Debra J. Feinberg and Frances D’Auria.
District voters can have their say in the elementary school’s library in Livingston Manor from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
For more information, contact the district at 439-4400 or log on to lmcs.k12.ny.us