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Tue., Sep. 23
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Fate of school budgets decided today

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POTSDAM - Voters across the state will head to the polls today to elect new board of education members and decide the fate of school budgets in their communities.

While the majority of budgets will pass with a simple majority, in Potsdam a super-majority, 60 percent plus one, will be needed.

That’s because the proposal people will be voting on exceeds the district’s maximum allowable tax levy by .9 percent or $99,624.

Mr. Brady said exceeding the cap was a decision made by the board to help stave off additional cuts.

Although their proposal exceeds the cap, the 2.9 percent tax levy increase is actually lower than the increases proposed by several other districts in the region, including St. Lawrence Central and Parishville-Hopkinton, where their tax levy increases actually fall within their maximum allowable levy, as determined by a state-created eight-part formula.

“In order to avoid further cuts to our staff and programming we decided to slightly exceed the tax cap,” Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said. “We hope the community will understand and look at all the factors.”

Mr. Brady said with the transparency of this year’s budget process the public should be educated.

“The board and the administration worked to educate the public on all the financial challenges facing the district,” he said. “We’ll wait with anticipation of what happens.”

Based on past results, 60 percent voter support shouldn’t be a problem, but Mr. Brady said he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“The data that we have on past elections indicates that we usually receive over 60 percent affirmative votes,” he said, adding, “It’s always difficult to know what the vote outcome will be.”

Mr. Brady also questioned why a super-majority is needed.

“The law was fashioned after the Massachusetts’ one, which did not include a super-majority,” he said. “That’s the law and those are requirements we have.”

Potsdam’s $26,782,798 budget represents a 3.2 percent spending increase over the current year’s plan.

Voters will also be electing three board of education members from a field of six that only includes one incumbent, J. Patrick Turbett. Mr. Turbett will be joined on the ballot by Danielle L. Gray, James Hubbard and former board members, Mary Ashley Carroll, Ann M. Carvill and Sandra D. Morris.

The ballot will additionally include a proposition to purchase two buses, at a cost of $200,422.

Polls in Potsdam will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the high school auditorium.

Voters in the Massena Central School District will be asked to approve a $46 million budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent over the $44.7 million plan in 2011-12. It carries a tax levy increase of 2 percent.

Voters will also be asked to approve the purchase of four 66-passenger buses and one 26-passenger wheelchair accessible bus at a cost not to exceed $501,914. The buses will be purchased through general funds. No bonds, notes or renewal notes will be used to raise funds for the purchase.

Two five-year terms are available on the board of education. This year’s candidates are incumbents Gregory C. Fregoe and Cristen R. Halladay and newcomers Loren Fountaine, Patrick Serguson and Eva Waters.

Voting will be held from noon to 8 p.m. at the Massena Community Center.

Voters in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School District also have a crowded field of candidates seeking election to the board of education, with five candidates seeking two seats.

Incumbents Scott Baxter and Shelli Prespare-Weston will be joined on the ballot by Tracy Hoose, Lena Matthie and Lisa Warner.

The district’s $9,470,000 budget plan is a spending increase of only $85,000 or 0.91 percent. The district’s tax levy of $6,790,000 is an increase of 2.03 percent.

A proposition from the Colton Hepburn Library also appears on the ballot, asking for a $5,000 increase in funding, bringing the total amount of money received by the library through the proposition up to $20,000. This is the first increase the library has asked for since 2007.

Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. in the auditorium library.

Norwood-Norfolk Central School voters will be asked to approve a $19.5 million budget that increases spending by 1.58 percent over the $19.2 million plan in 2011-12. It carries a tax levy increase of 0.26 percent.

Also on the ballot is a proposition to purchase one 66-passenger bus and two 60-passenger buses at a cost not to exceed $330,000.

Two incumbents, Thomas W. Scott and George D. Fulk, are seeking another three-year term on the board of education. No names were submitted for a third seat that’s currently held by Lisa R. Levison, appointed in 2011 to fill out the remainder of Jane Peacock’s three-year term.

Voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the district board room.

At St. Lawrence Central, voters will be asked to approve an $18.9 million spending plan that decreases spending by 0.68 percent over the $19 million 2011-12 spending plan. It carries a tax levy increase of 3.28 percent.

Also on the ballot is a proposition to purchase four buses at a cost not to exceed $383,000.

Two seats are up on the board of education, and two incumbents, Patricia K. Gengo and Rhonda L. Shorette-Peets will be returning for another five-year term.

Voting will be held from noon to 8 p.m. in the middle school gymnasium.

Voters from the Parishville Hopkinton Central School District will be voting on a $10.06 million budget. The proposal carries a tax levy increase of 2.91 percent and is $622,093 more than the current year’s spending plan.

They will also be electing two board of education members from a field that includes incumbent Board President Ward Remington and newly appointed board member Robert White. Both men are seeking full five-year terms. Mr. White was appointed to the board in the March, following the resignation of Christina Jacot.

A bus proposition is additionally included, as the district is asking for permission to purchase two buses at a cost not to exceed $230,000.

Polls will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

The Madrid-Waddington Central School District is offering a $13,984,990 budget for 2012-2013, up from $13,478,543 this year.

The budget carries a 2.92 percent tax levy increase to $3,789,488 from $3,681,871 this year.

Douglas McKnight and Brian Hammond are running unopposed for two board of education seats.

Voters will also be asked to approve a proposition allowing the purchase of two buses and one passenger van at a cost not to exceed $275,000.

Voting is from 1 to 8 p.m. in the school auditorium lobby.

Canton Central is is proposing a $23,266,223 budget that carries a 4.69 percent tax levy increase. The proposed tax hike generates an extra $350,051 for the district, bringing the total tax levy to $8,000,070.

Despite the tax increase, total spending is $400,767 less than this year’s budget, representing a 1.69 percent decrease.

Voters will be asked to approve a $465,000 bond proposition to purchase four, full-sized buses and one eight-passenger van.

The ballot also includes a spending proposition that gives Canton Free Library permission to collect an additional $2,000 next year from property taxpayers bringing the total library tax from $75,000 to $77,000.

Three incumbents are running unopposed: Marianne DiMarco-Temkin, Shannon D. Mattice and Victor N. Rycroft.

Voting is from noon to 9 p.m. in the high school library.

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