Local News

May 22, 2013

Tupper Lake, Newcomb, Minerva budgets fail

Three local school budgets up for vote Tuesday had tax-levy increases that exceeded the state cap, and all three went down at the polls.

Officials at Tupper Lake, Newcomb and Minerva central schools expressed disappointment over the results.

“What people really don’t understand is it just makes next year’s problem bigger,” Tupper Lake Central Superintendent Seth McGowan said Tuesday night.

The district’s $17,233,794 spending plan was vetoed soundly at the polls without the required supermajority vote of 60 percent even coming into play.

The tally was 685 against to 512 in favor.

Newcomb Central’s spending plan, which also required super-majority approval to pass, went down with 111 “yes” to 104 “no” votes.

The $5.8 million spending plan carried a tax-levy increase of 24.7 percent, well above the district’s 7.16 percent limit.

“Apparently, the community was not ready for that kind of increase in our budget,” Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults said.

Hults said there was very low public turnout at district budget forums, making it difficult to know the community’s thoughts.

Voter turnout, however, was the highest it has been in 15 years, he said.

Minerva Central voters shot down a spending plan of $5.1 million with 144 “yes” and 177 “no” votes.

Its tax-levy increase was 8.93 percent, 4.96 percent over its cap.

“The board is going to meet Thursday and decide the next step,” Superintendent Tim Farrell said.

It’s likely, he said, another budget will be put up in June, a move McGowan said Tupper Lake would probably take. 

Every program would be touched by that effort to reduce spending further, he said.

“(But) the way the state funds schools,” he said, “schools can’t cut their way out of the problem.”

Tupper Lake’s proposed levy increase was 8.35 percent; the state cap is 4.76.

The Newcomb School Board now has three options, Hults said. It can put the same budget up for re-vote, propose a plan at the tax-levy limit or put up a plan that meets somewhere in the middle.

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