Voters in school districts throughout Fulton County approved budgets with tax hikes Tuesday night.
Budgets passed in Johnstown, Gloversville, Mayfield, Northville and even Broadalbin-Perth, a district where smaller tax and spending increases than the one proposed this year have failed to gain voter support in the recent past.
The $27.6 million budget proposal in Johnstown passed 600-284. The budget will increase the local property tax levy by 3 percent and increase overall spending by 0.67 percent.
Voters approved an extension of the district’s bus garage lease on Crescendoe Road, 691-208. Voters also approved leases for new buses, 639-242.
In a major win for the Johnstown Teachers Association, three union-backed candidates for the school board trounced incumbents Russ Martin and Joanne Freeman. Paul VanDenburgh, the son of a retired Johnstown English teacher, received 612 votes, Jennifer Sponnoble, a Mayfield school guidance counselor, received 569 votes and Doug Dougherty, a retired Broadalbin-Perth teacher, received 495 votes. All three acknowledged their union support was likely helpful to winning the seats.
Challenger Bradley Yerdon, who opposes the teacher salary step guide, was first among the losers with 452 votes. Martin, a vocal critic of the teachers union’s push for salary raises, received 340 votes, and Freeman, the board’s vice president for 2009-10, received 287 votes. All three of the losing candidates oppose the salary step guide for teachers, a bone of contention in stalemated contract talks, while winners Dougherty and Sponnoble both support the step guide.
Martin’s defeat removes a lower-tax hardliner from the district’s contract negotiating team. Dougherty said he won’t ask to replace Martin on the negotiating team because he could never advocate against the teachers’ interest.
“I will not be on the negotiating committee because I will not negotiate against the teachers,” Dougherty said. “I think if there are too many teachers on the negotiating committee it gives people the impression that you’re trying to give the store away. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Residents in the Gloversville Enlarged School District voted 741-597 to adopt a $50.69 million budget with a 2.99 percent tax increase.
Voters also approved spending $200,700 to buy two new buses, 810-549, while electing four board members including incumbent Frank Carangelo.
Carangelo received 902 votes to 905 for Robert Curtis, 811 for Joseph Andrews and 804 for Leo Santini. Incumbent Jean La Porta finished fifth with 785 votes.
Board President Peter Semione said he is looking forward to working with the new board, but he expressed disappointment over losing La Porta, whom he described as an “excellent board member.”
Semione also expressed relief that the budget passed so decisively.
“I think the public understood what we were up against,” he said. The budget remains at $50.69 million for the second consecutive year, but with state aid decreasing an expected $1.5 million, the tax levy will rise about $380,000 to $12.8 million.
In Broadalbin-Perth, a record 1,755 voters turned out. The district’s $29 million budget, with a 3.98 percent spending increase and likely a double digit property tax levy hike, passed 938-817.
District officials said the tax levy increase will not exceed 14 percent, but could not give an exact number.
Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said he was ecstatic about the vote, which he called a major win for the children of the district.
Prior to the vote, district officials indicated it was possible the district would need to eliminate all sports programs if the budget were defeated.
By a vote of 918-795, district residents approved a proposition that will allow Broadalbin-Perth to purchase three 66-passenger school buses to replace vehicles that are beyond their life expectancy.
Residents also voted to fill three seats on the Broadalbin-Perth Board of Education. Five candidates competed for the three seats: Byron Armstrong Barker, Keith Buchanan, Charlie Dezolt, Floyd Douglas and Brandt Minkler. Buchanan and Dezolt won the five-year terms with 1,202 and 891 votes, respectively. Minkler received 848 votes and will serve the remaining two years of the term of John Pecora.
In Mayfield, the district’s $16.9 million budget passed 395-189. The budget is $8,967 less than the 2009-10 school budget — a spending decrease of 0.05 percent. Under the approved budget, the district’s tax levy is expected to increase by 2.85 percent.
A proposition to purchase a bus passed 375-201 and a proposition to re-surface the district’s running track passed 301-269.
Incumbent Tush Nikollaj won re-election to a five-year term by 447 to 114 votes for challenger Frederick Castiglione.
Northville Central School voters passed the district’s $9.47 million budget, authorized the purchase of two new buses and re-elected James Beirlein to the school board.
Residents also approved the public library’s $139,757 budget while re-electing trustees Stella Williams and Dylan Thomarie.
The budget, which is up only 1.8 percent but raises taxes 3.9 percent, was adopted 326-210. A proposition to buy a standard bus and a nine-passenger vehicle for $146,000 passed 285-215.
Beirlein defeated Phil Schuyler 266-263. The library budget was approved 308=217 and Williams received 411 votes to 330 for Thomarie.
The tax levy will increase about $178,000 to $4.7 million — a jump of 3.9 percent.
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Categories: Schenectady County