More than half of Stillwater voters say yes, but budget still fails
While a majority of school districts can move forward with new budgets for the 2012-2013 school year, one district in Saratoga County stands as the exception. Stillwater voters decided to turn down a spending plan that includes cuts to both staffing and programs. And while the district didn't get the votes it needed, as our Megan Cruz explains more than half of Stillwater voters still approved the plan.
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STILLWATER, N.Y. -- "Until the tax cap went into effect, a 50 percent yes vote would have been adequate," said Tim Ryan, the school board president for the Stillwater Central School District.
And it's a percentage he said they had, but because of the state's new two percent tax cap, the school district is still without a budget. Ryan says he's disappointed.
"Had a good turnout and majority support for the budget, but not enough to pass the 60 percent hurdle," he said.
The higher threshold is because Stillwater's school board proposed a budget whose 3.08 percent tax levy exceeds their tax cap. Ryan says it's not a matter of spending more than they should.
"It's a matter of how the tax cap law treats different forms of revenue," he said.
Like GlobalFoundries' payment in lieu of taxes, which Stillwater Superintendent Stanley Maziejka says has gone up by $600,000. The increased contribution has forced down Stillwater's tax cap to a -4.5 percent.
Ryan says it's a frustrating situation, but it's one the board will have to deal with. Voters who say they supported the initial budget say to use this opportunity to fine-tune it.
"I don't believe we should lose any teachers over our budget," said Tammy Jones, a Stillwater teacher's aide.
"You have a digital classroom, but what if the Internet goes down or whatever system they'll use goes down - what are the kids going to do?" asked Beverly Legory, whose daughter is a 6th grader in Stillwater.
For the budget details, visit the school's website. Going forward, the board will meet next Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m., and they're urging the public to attend. They have three choices: they could put the same budget up for a second vote, revise the budget, or adopt a contingent budget with a 0 percent tax levy increase.