School bus proposal defeated

A majority of Gloversville school district voters gave approval Monday to purchase four new buses, b

A majority of Gloversville school district voters gave approval Monday to purchase four new buses, but the proposition failed anyway because a supermajority of 60 percent was required by law.

The 405 to 320 vote tally constituted a 55.8 percent majority. District Business Administrator Steven Schloicka said the supermajority is required because the district is already over its debt limit.

Peter Semione, board vice president, said he was astonished that residents passed up an opportunity to buy four new buses — totaling $190,000 — at a local share of about $19,000.

With the defeat, the board reacted immediately by voting 5 to 2 to seek bids to lease the four vehicles at an estimated cost of up to $60,000 for the school-year.

Board members Betsy Simek and Harry Wiggins opposed leasing.

Board President Perry Paul said voters may have been trying to save money but instead forced the district to spend an extra $40,000 to cover this year’s bus routes.

He said the loss to taxpayers is actually greater because leasing will prevent the district from realizing the $250,000 in savings projected from using district buses and drivers — not private contractors — to make special education runs to Albany. Paul said the savings after leasing may now be $150,000.

To maximize the savings, the board voted to institute student bus stops and implement that plan by Oct. 1, if possible. There has been door-to-door bus service, a time consuming approach.

Consolidating the stops would free up buses for other runs, officials said, saving an estimated $53,000.

Semione pointed out leasing the buses is a temporary solution. The following year, he said the district will face the same bus shortage dilemma.

Had the voters approved the four buses, Semione said they would have been in the district fleet for 10 years.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli said he understands the perception by some that the board was arrogant when it adopted a contingency budget with the same 6.9 percent tax increase offered by the budget defeated soundly in May.

Now, he said, the district and its taxpayers will have to spend more.

Categories: Schenectady County

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