Niagara Gazette — WHEATFIELD — It was the narrowest of margins, but the Niagara-Wheatfield School Board majority elected en masse two years ago has yet to succeed in an initial budget vote.
Voters turned down a proposed $62.8 million spending plan, complete with a 5.91 percent tax levy increase, by a 1,598-1,601 decision. If you do the math, the budget failed by three votes.
“I’m speechless,” School Board President Steve Sabo said. “It was a quiet year, there was not much said at all. Still, it was almost a 50/50 split. If there’d been four more votes yes, it would have passed by one.”
All results are unofficial until confirmed by the school board at its meeting at 7 p.m. tonight in the high school’s Adult Learning Center, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Lewiston.
It’s similar to last year’s outcome, which saw a May budget proposal fail as the district attempted to override the state’s property tax cap law. The original proposal was handily defeated before a June proposal adopted a 4.85 percent increase, a figure under the cap.
Tuesday’s budget figure was at the board’s cap limit, meaning it needed only a 50 percent plus one vote, why the decision’s closeness meant more.
Though unfavorable, the result leaves the board with three options. It can either propose a second vote June 18 with the same tax levy increase and hope to drum up new support from voters, follow last year’s example and slightly reduce its sought increase to acknowledge those who cast negative votes or accept its failure and continue forward with a zero levy increase.
Sabo said the zero budget would feature many of the cuts the district presented last month before adopting the proposed plan. Kindergarten, a program not mandated by the New York State Education Department, would suffer severe eliminations, as would the music, art and sports programs.