Press-Republican

Local News

June 21, 2014

Minerva Central seeks third budget vote

MINERVA — Hoping the third time is a charm, the Minerva Central School Board has voted to ask the state education commissioner for permission to hold a new budget vote.

“We’re filing the paperwork now,” Minerva Superintendent Timothy Farrell told the Press-Republican on Friday. “We’re looking forward to an expedited process.”

The second school budget vote on June 17 was marred by a malfunctioning mechanical voting machine, school officials said, as total votes registered on the device did not match combined vote totals.

Farrell said the machine registered 408 votes cast, but there were 226 “yes” votes and 173 “no” votes on it, which equals 399.

There were also 34 “yes” and 8 “no” votes by absentee ballot, for a total of 260 “yes” and 181 “no” — which meant 59 percent of those voters approved the budget.

However, because the proposed $5.1 million budget exceeded the state tax cap for the district, a 60 percent super majority of voters had to be in favor for it to pass.

The tax-levy cap formula was 2.75 percent, and the tax-levy increase in the budget is 13.5 percent.

EARLIEST VOTE AUG. 1

After a meeting Thursday night, the board voted unanimously to ask State Education Commissioner John King Jr. to allow a third vote.

“I think it’s the only way, regardless of whether the outcome changes, given the uncertainty of the machine,” the superintendent said. 

“It was determined it just can’t be left like that. The decision is too significant; one way or another, we need to know if the vote is accurate.”

State Education Law says the commissioner of education can set aside the results of a school district election when it is “probable from the evidence that the irregularities (that) affected the outcome of the election were so pervasive as to vitiate the electoral process or demonstrate a clear and convincing picture of informality to the point of laxity in adherence to the Education Law.”

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