FONDA - Residents of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District turned out in near-record numbers and defeated a proposed budget that would have raised the tax levy by nearly 8 percent.
A total of 787 people voted against the $24.19 million spending plan, and 596 voted for it.
The proposal called for a 7.96 percent increase in the tax levy - the amount of money to be raised through property taxes. Since the proposed increase in the levy was above the state-mandated tax cap, the budget would have needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, but it didn't even get a majority.
Residents of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District line up to vote on the proposed 2012-13 budget Tuesday. The spending plan, which would have increased the tax levy by nearly 8 percent, was defeated.
The Leader-Herald/John R. Becker
District voters elected three new school board members as well. Kelley O'Kosky, Donna Hayes and Mary Frollo will replace Connie Conti, Carole DeBonte and Rodney Simonds, none of whom ran for re-election.
Al Abele of Tribes Hill was in the long line to vote on the budget. He said he and his wife might not vote the same way.
"One of us is going to vote with our heart and one is going to vote with our head," he said. "The heart vote is when your grandkids are about to start kindergarten. The head vote is when you're retired and on a fixed income."
Katherine Tylutki of Tribes Hill was holding her 3-year-old son, Wyatt, as she waited in line to vote.
"The outcome this year will affect next year, and that's important because my son will be starting school," she said. "I want to ensure that they keep the kindergarten program."
Jeffrey Phillips of Fultonville said he wasn't happy with the proposed budget.
"It's a balancing point we have to find, I guess," he said. "I'm not sure if this budget finds that balancing point."
Following the tally of the results, District Superintendent James D. Hoffman said he was very disappointed.
"The people have spoken," he said. "I'm not happy with their decision, but we will abide by it and go forward."
He said he was surprised.
"I really thought people realized it was a do-or-die situation," he said.
School board President Linda Wszolek said the large voter turnout made the results honest, but she still was disappointed.
"The numbers were not even close, so we have to be fair [in drawing up a new budget]," she said.
With the defeat of the budget, state law allows the school board to resubmit the same spending plan or a revised one for another vote, Hoffman said. If it fails a second time, the district must adopt a budget with no increase in the tax levy, he said.
Board members will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to consider their options.