Passing grades for all districts
Story by Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY May 24, 2013 A majority of voters across Sullivan County gave the thumbs-up to their school districts’ budgets on Tuesday.
Notably, none of the schools proposed hiking taxes above the state-mandated property tax cap.
And both Fallsburg and Tri-Valley earned permission to undertake major renovations projects.
Despite proposed cuts to staff, Eldred’s $16.2 million budget sailed through Tuesday’s vote, with 344 in favor and 121 against.
Current board member Linda Bohs ran unopposed, earning 296 votes.
And the Sunshine Free Library’s $14,000 annual tax levy for its upcoming budget passed 352-101.
Fallsburg proposed a $36.6 million budget, and 218 voters approved, as opposed to 90 against.
A majority (202) also approved an $11 million plan to renovate the Junior-Senior High School and Cosor Elementary School (with 92 against).
“We’re very excited,” affirmed Supt. Ivan Katz, who credited an educational video and the lack of a tax hike from the project as a winning combination. “A lot of it also had to do with the fact we were making good use of our undesignated fund balance [surplus funds].”
Next up is seeking a construction manager, then putting the work out to bid. Katz anticipates renovations to begin next summer and finish by summer of 2015.
At the board level, incumbents Arlene Hussey and Robert Whitaker were returned to their seats, earning 232 and 177 votes, respectively. Hussey was unopposed, while Whitaker’s challenger, Miranda Behan, earned 140 votes.
The seat of retiring board member Lorraine Lopez was claimed by Debra Barbiani, whose 204 votes far outpaced challenger Denise Wallace Fore’s 83.
Welcoming a lack of painful cuts this year but still facing a three percent tax levy increase, 280 voters approved Liberty’s $41 million budget, compared to 230 who did not.
Four candidates were vying for three board seats. Newcomer John L. Nichols won the most votes 399 in total (he’ll replace retiring board member Joyce Teed) while incumbents Andrew Kavleski (370 votes) and Philip Olsen (330) were re-elected. Malek Rabadi’s 264 votes were thus not enough to gain him a spot.
Despite a lack of cuts, Livingston Manor’s $15 million budget passed by a fairly slim margin, 212-195 possibly due to the 3.5 percent tax levy hike, one of the highest proposed increases in the county.
Incumbent Elaine Lotz was unable to hang on to her board seat, as her 76 votes fell short of challenger Frances D’Auria’s 93 votes and winner Debra Feinberg’s 243.
Monticello voters 601 of them said yes to the district’s $80 million budget, though a hefty 362 said no, as it came with a 3.62 percent tax levy increase and the loss of three dozen occupied positions.
Incumbent board members Ellen Nesin and Stacey Sharoff won re-election with 687 and 512 votes, respectively. Nesin was unopposed, and Sharoff beat Terry Gray Sr., who earned 259 votes.
Incumbent Yvonne Housman didn’t run for re-election, so her seat will be taken by Jennifer Kelly, thanks to 439 votes, outpacing Barbara O’Rourke’s 320 and Frank Segro’s 149.
Roscoe presented a $7.7 million budget with a 2.4 percent tax levy increase, and voters responded by approving it 141-65.
Incumbent board member Gary Dahlman earned 188 votes in his unopposed re-election bid.
A thin majority of voters also agreed to increase the district’s contribution to the Roscoe Free Library from $42,000 to $44,000 this year, passing it 104-98.
Riding high from a top ranking by U.S. News and World Report, Sullivan West voters overwhelmingly approved a $34.4 million budget 453-185.
There were no contested races at the board level. Incumbents Kevin Murphy (464 votes), Joan Glase (444), Rose Joyce-Turner (444) and Ken Cohen (436) were all returned to office.
A $30.3 million budget with a 3.28 percent tax levy increase didn’t faze the majority of Tri-Valley voters, 357 of whom gave their assent versus 198 who didn’t.
“I just want to thank Tri-Valley voters for their support,” Supt. Tom Palmer remarked afterwards, noting that support comes amidst tough economic times.
However, a second proposition to undertake $5.7 million in renovations inside and out gained acceptance by a slimmer margin, passing 292-225.
Palmer thought that may have to do with a split over work on the district’s track. But he acknowledged that Tri-Valley is well-known for that part of its athletic program.
“We have almost 100 kids in our track program,” he affirmed. “... Breeding that success, we have a lot of parents involved in that.”
And they likely made their satisfaction known with the positive vote, Palmer said.
Now the district engages its architects to design the renovations work, with work slated to begin next summer. Palmer anticipated waiting on big decisions until the new board is seated in July.
Incumbents Gary Ter Bush, D. Jane Tingley and Leonard Bernstein opted not to run for re-election, so Cathy Russo (411 votes), Janet Dymond (331) and Lori Schmitz (326) will replace them.