School budget proposals across western Putnam County passed unanimously on May 21.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s two-percent tax levy cap appears to have worked its electoral magic for another year, and despite a comparatively light turnout.
Voters in all of the PCN&R-area districts approved spending plans for the academic year 2013-14, and all but one of the school board incumbents were re-elected.
● In Garrison, the $9,752,778 budget passed, 202 votes for, 74 votes against.
● At Haldane, the $22,345,120 budget passed, 554 votes for, 210 votes against. The separate proposition for a school bus van and school security improvements also passed, 578 for to 230 against.
● In Putnam Valley, the $48,625,726 budget passed, 798 votes for, 449 votes against.
Garrison voters elected school board candidates Charlotte Rowe, incumbent, and Derek DuBois, who will take departing trustee Anita Prentice’s seat, by 167 and 166 votes respectively. Julia Bellrose Wynn came in third with 133 votes.
Poll officer Sue Tudor read off the final numbers loud and clear as the candidates waited patiently off to the side. Board Chair Ray O'Rourke, School Superintendent Gloria Colucci and principal Stephanie Impellittiere took turns congratulating the winners. Top vote getter Rowe was decked out from head to toe in the school colors, blue and white.
Haldane voters returned incumbent Gillian Thorpe, and elected Jennifer Daly, who will take Mike Junjulas’s seat, by 591 and 423 votes respectively. Julisa Rincon-Tomizawa came in third with 399 votes. Following the announcement, an upbeat Daly said she was excited and ready to hit the ground running. Rincon-Tomizawa congratulated her opponent and said the whole process had been exciting. For his part, Haldane Superintendent Mark Villanti said “I think relief is probably the best word,” to describe how he was feeling, and added that he couldn’t remember a time in the last decade when a Haldane budget had experienced such a low no-vote total.
Putnam Valley voters elected incumbent Jeanine Rufo with 768 votes, but they retired incumbent Joseph Ferraro by just 12 votes. Recently retired teacher and former union representative Ralph Smith won Ferraro’s seat with 634 votes to Ferraro’s 622. Smith was locally criticized for a last-minute, May 17 press release in which he called for both smaller class sizes and a lower budget increase—which are, of course, contradictory—and was highly critical of the current school board, but that didn’t stop voters from electing him.
Lakeland Central School District results were not yet available at press time
The budget season was an up-and-down affair, opening with continued cuts to so-called rollover budgets, and closing with an uptick in state aid that softened, but did not eliminate, what has become an annual financial blow from Albany.
It’s been a common assumption that with the State’s tax levy cap in place, voters seem generally more comfortable with approving school budgets than they have in the past; and in western Putnam County that certainly seems to have been the case.
These are the basics for the three key western Putnam districts:
Garrison Union Free School District
Total proposed budget for 2013-14: $9,752,778
Budget-to-budget increase: 2.92 %
Tax levy: $ 8,381,570
Tax levy increase: 2.18%
Haldane Central School District
Total proposed budget for 2013-14: $22,345,120
Budget-To-Budget increase: 1.90 %
Tax levy: $18,082,353
Tax levy increase is 3.55 %
Putnam Valley Central School District
Total proposed budget for 2013-14: $48,625,726
Budget-to-budget increase: 7.41%
Tax levy: $35,853,814
Tax levy increase: 2.7%