Voters turned down a controversial school budget proposal Tuesday in the Dolgeville Central School District, in Herkimer County.
The proposal called for an 11 percent tax levy increase, which is well over the state’s tax cap. That means a 60 percent supermajority was needed for the budget to pass. According to the Superintendent, it would have cost the average $75,000 homeowner using the Basic STAR exemption an extra $9 to $14 a month. It ultimately failed 574-326.
"Disappointment," said Superintendent Lynn Rhone. "We were really hoping that we had given the public enough information to see that we needed some help, but they spoke really loud and said, 'You know what? We want you to try something different'."
A $2.6 million deficit comes after what school leaders called "a lack of consistency in financial leadership" and incomplete budgeting in the last fiscal year.
More cuts could be on the table.
"I think it's gonna take a big toll. I can't talk about any kind of positions because we haven't really gone back to that drawing table yet with the Board. I mean that's the process that we'll probably start tonight, but it's $430,000 cut that we'll have to make," Rhone said before a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday night.
Some teachers at the meeting said they think voters were misinformed, and that's why the budget didn't pass.
"People think their taxes were going up 11% and I'll be honest, I thought that too until I came to meetings and got informed. So I want to ask the public to please read their Budget Newsletter, call the school and ask questions," said teacher Trista Simpson.
Now the Board of Education can put the same budget before voters for a second vote, propose a revised budget, or adopt a contingency budget.
A contingency budget is very strict and wouldn't allow for new equipment purchases. It could mean the public would have to pay for outside use of school buildings and grounds.
"Contingency budgets are very restrictive, very restrictive," Simpson said. "No, I would not want to see a contingency budget."
If a revote failed, a contingency budget would have to be adopted.
A decision will need to be finalized within the next month. It's likely another meeting will be held next week.
Board of Education President Robert Maxwell told Spectrum News Wednesday morning that 11 positions have already been cut prior to the proposal and now they will have to go back to the drawing board and make more cuts.