Saratoga County districts’ proposals get green light from public
SARATOGA COUNTY Voters overwhelmingly approved school district budgets around Saratoga County on Tuesday.
In the second year of a state-imposed property tax levy cap, local districts stayed within the limit and voters apparently appreciated it. Among the highest approval margins was the 75 percent of voters in the Ballston Spa Central School District who OK’d the district’s 2013-14 budget plan.
In the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District, voters tried out the new optical scanning voting machines for the first time in the school budget elections. The county already switched to the new machines, which use paper ballots, before November’s general election. School districts can continue to use the old lever machines or may switch to the new ones.
“The machines are working just fine,” district spokeswoman Christy Multer said Tuesday afternoon. Voter turnout seemed to be about average through the day, she said, as voters braved the hot and muggy high school gym, which is not air conditioned, to cast their ballots.
Here’s a rundown of results in many of the county’s districts:
Voters in the Ballston Spa Central School District approved a $79.6 million budget plan for next year that is expected to keep the tax rate about the same.
Officials said 1,160 people voted for the budget and 397 voted against it. The spending plan carries a 1.5 percent tax levy increase but no expected average tax rate increase. It increases overall spending 4.2 percent more than this year.
Two candidates for school board, Dan Cramer and Susan Filburn, ran unopposed and were elected to three-year terms. Cramer is an incumbent and has served on the board since 2009. Filburn has served on the Ballston Spa Education Foundation board, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the district.
Propositions to replace district vehicles, fund the public library and fund the local recreation commission also passed.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
Taxpayers in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District approved a $59 million budget for 2013-14 with an overall spending increase of 3.7 percent and a 2.47 percent tax levy hike.
For the first time in four years, the budget does not reduce any programs, district officials said.
On Tuesday, 1,435 people voted in favor of the budget and 824 voted against.
An even greater majority voted 1,554-704 to pay up to $450,000 to replace seven of the oldest buses in the district’s fleet.
Two open seats on the school board will be filled by incumbent Lee-Ann Mertzlufft, who owns a business that serves special education students, and challenger Jennifer Longtin, owner of Lighthouse Insurance Agency. Both have children in district schools.
Incumbent William Farmer was unsuccessful in his re-election bid.
Voters at Galway Central Schools passed the $17.9 million budget 461-239. It raises the tax levy 5.36 percent.
They also agreed 443-237 to allow the district to purchase four school buses at a cost of $386,000.
Two challengers to the school board were successful in their campaigns and one incumbent was re-elected as seven people vied for three seats.
Navy electrical engineer Jay Anderson and community volunteer and incumbent Lauralyn Sakala will take four-year terms on the board; retired school administrator Melodye Eldeen was elected to serve a three-year term.
Candidates Stacy Morey, Jerri Ernst, Harold “Eric” Fajans and Cheryl Smith were not elected.
Residents of the Mechanicville City School District voted 430-167 to pass the district’s $21.3 million budget, which will raise the tax levy 2.94 percent.
They also favored a $310,000 bus proposition to replace two large buses and one small bus, voting 392-163 on that question.
Three people were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Education: incumbents John Bove and John Zacher and challenger John Taglione. Incumbent Kim Dunn was unsuccessful in her re-election bid.
Saratoga Springs City School District voters approved a $112.6 million budget that includes a 2.9 percent increase in the tax levy.
Voters OK’d the budget 1,839-458 .
The total spending is 2.6 percent higher than the district’s $109.7 million budget for 2012-13.
Voters also approved a $3.24 million capital project to upgrade the district’s fire safety systems, security systems and wireless networks; repair the roof at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School; and repair heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the high school and Greenfield Elementary School.
A proposition to spend $950,675 to buy up to seven large school buses and three small buses was approved as well.
Three incumbents won re-election to the school board: Russell Danforth, a professional mechanical engineer, Ernest Gailor, a forensic engineer, and Regina Gapczynski, a retired teacher and school administrator. Challenger Stephen Verral lost his bid for a board seat.
Residents of the Shenendehowa Central School District voted 2,557-1,208 in favor of the district’s 2013-14 budget.
The $156.7 million spending plan carries a tax levy increase of 2.8 percent and an average tax rate increase of 2.29 percent, the lowest hike in four years.
Voters also OK’d buying 19 buses for $1.8 million.
Retired public school teacher Gary DiLallo and poet Richard Mincher won re-election bids on the Board of Education, and challenger Todd Gilbert also will take a seat on the board. Challenger Pamela Koniszewski lost her bid.
Stillwater Central School District voters approved a $22 million budget, with 511 people voting in favor and 211 against.
The 2013-14 spending plan will increase the tax levy by 1.93 percent; overall spending will rise by 4.12 percent.
A majority of voters also voted for a $100,000 capital project to fix the heating, electrical and plumbing systems at the middle school, elementary school and transportation building; and for a $245,000 bus proposition to replace one large bus, one small bus and two vans.
Voters filled three seats on the Board of Education from six candidates who ran for those spots: Valerie Masterson, Joe Greene and Timothy Ryan were elected to three-year terms. Pamela Bisaillon, Thomas Coffinger Jr. and Lauren Kirkwood were unsuccessful.
Residents of the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District voted 175-82 in favor of a $19.4 million budget.
It includes a 2.96 percent levy increase and a 6.64 percent hike in total spending. Voters also approved a school bus lease proposition for one bus for $7,248 per year for a five-year period.
Tammi Dehler of Waterford was the only person on the ballot for two Board of Education seats; Denise Keyoskey also was elected with write-in votes.