By Rich Place
Residents of the West Valley Central School District will have an opportunity June 19 to cast ballots again on a proposed $9.8 million budget for the 2018-19 school year after the school board on Monday opted to put the same spending plan up for a re-vote.
The 4-1 decision by the board came following a roughly 10-minute discussion that was often quiet on what steps to take after the budget failed to pass last week by a 181-151 tally. A second proposition to purchase a school bus also failed and will be voted on again.
The board also had the option to immediately adopt a contingency budget, a move the board took when presented with the same hurdle two years ago.
“My thought is to put it back up for re-vote,” said Teaseleman Jackson- McCarty, the first school board member to voice an opinion on the board’s next step. “Last time when it was voted down we had a lot of outcry from the community, so I am voting to put it back up.”
Timothy Ploetz was the lone school board member to vote against putting the spending plan up for a second vote. Board members George Kazmierczak and Dawn Samborski were absent.
“We worked on this budget and we put it out there as the best budget that we, along with our administration … felt was the best for this district and what was best for the community,” said board president Stephen Kowalski.
Kowalski, Jackson- McCarty and Kimberly Cizdziel — who all voted to put the budget up for a re-vote this year — had voted along with Kazmierczak to immediately adopt a contingency spending plan two years ago when the budget failed to pass. The proposed 2016-17 budget failed 329- 271, a significantly higher voter turnout compared to this year’s 332 total voters. The 2016 vote included a 7.68 percent decrease in the tax levy while this budget includes a 2 percent tax levy increase.
Should the budget fail again on June 19, the date mandated by the state for school districts to put failed budgets up for a revote, the school board must adopt a contingency budget that does not have an increase in the tax levy.
It’ll now be a case of deja vu for the school’s business office, which must adhere to similar guidelines compared to when the budget was first brought up for a vote last Tuesday. That includes publishing the budget vote notice, holding another voter registration date and mailing a budget notice, according to school business official Ann O’Brien.
She said following the meeting she is recommending a budget hearing be held on June 11, as the board is already scheduled to meet that night and the hearing must be held between June 5 and 12.
Kowalski told board members after the vote it’s estimated the re-vote will cost the district about $2,000.
According to data released late last week by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA), West Valley was one of 16 school districts to have its budget proposition defeated. Voters passed 653 school district budgets statewide, with NYSSBA still waiting on results from seven districts. The 97.6 percent passage of school district budgets was down slightly from 99.3 percent last year, according to NYSSBA.
The budget revote at West Valley will come two days before the board will hear from education consultants Castallo & Silky LLC on the results of a pre-annexation study with the Ellicottville or Springville- Griffith Institute school districts.