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May 25, 2011 - 12:38am
posted by WBTA News in Board of Education, School Budgets.

It was the longest board of education meeting Pamela Wentworth could remember.

“I’ve never seen a meeting this long,” the president of Batavia Teachers’ Association whispered as the meeting closed at about 10 p.m.

But at the close of three hours of work, board members had managed to cut, scrimp and save their way down to just a 4.13-percent proposed property tax increase. That figure represents roughly $275,000 less tax revenue than the district would have received under the first-draft budget, which included a 5.75-percent tax increase. Voters shot that budget down last week.

“I just think it’s our obligation to put another budget in front of the public,” said Board President Andrew Pedro. Pedro entered one of three no votes to the contingency budget, which would have included a 5.13-percent tax increase.

“To me…the public sent a message (in the budget vote) that was ‘no,’” Pedro said. “Now if they shoot it down again, our hands are tied,” and the contingency budget must be adopted.

It’s important to note that a contingency budget would include a 5.13-percent property tax increase – more than what the district will now propose to voters. (See note at bottom) A contingency budget also includes a clause that the community may not use district facilities for free at a cost to the district. The cost must either be recouped through a fee, or the facilities must be shuttered to the public.

If board members had voted tonight to adopt the contingency budget, the public would not have had the chance to vote.

There were originally three budget options on the table for the board this evening. Choice Number One was to re-submit the already failed budget to voters. Choice Number Two was to submit a new budget to voters with just a 3-percent property tax increase, by including $170,000 in savings from four teacher retirements and wrapping in nearly $300,000 in reserves. And Choice Number Three was the contingency budget.

Superintendent Margaret Puzio explained that retirement savings weren’t realized in the first budget submitted to voters, because paperwork hadn’t yet been finished. But those savings are now ineligible to be wrapped into a contingency budget to drive taxes down.

That’s when Steve Hyde piped up with what he termed “the hybrid”: include all the cost savings in the contingency budget, wrap-in the retirement savings from Choice Number Two, and draw nothing from the district reserves.

“It still protects reserves for rainy days, because next year could be really terrible and tough,” Hyde pointed out, referring to a possible state property tax cap. “And a contingency budget is going to put a lot of hardships on community groups that rely on our facilities.”

Hyde’s plan would have to be put to a vote on June 21.

But Board Member Steve Mountain did not agree with either Andy Pedro or Steve Hyde.

“The vote was not a ‘loud and clear no,’” Mountain said. “Less than 10-percent of voters, voted” in the budget vote last week.

Mountain elected to go with the contingency budget, and instead place the $170,000 retirement savings in that rainy-day reserve fund for next year, as even more back-up.

“The taxpayer wouldn’t realize it (the benefit) until next year,” Mountain said. “If we put out a 3-percent budget this year, are we going to put out a 10-percent budget next year? We want to make sure we’re being consistent.”

The contingency budget was eventually put to a vote, and split 3-3 because Board Member Patrick Burk was away on other business. Burk was summoned, and voted the contingency budget down.

“I like Steve’s ‘hybrid’ where we are maintaining some of the reserves,” Burk said. “If the re-vote does pass, we are not jeopardizing the use of facilities by our community, which supports us in much larger areas.”

A vote on the “hybrid budget” passed 5-2. The unofficial final tally for that budget is $39,366,045, with a 4.13-percent property tax increase. The budget will go to voters on June 21, with a public hearing to be held at least one week in advance.

NOTE: A new contingency budget, if adopted, would contain a different property tax figure than the first-version contingency plan. School officials explained to WBTA News that each budget presented to voters has a subsequent related contingency budget. The new proposal (the hybrid) already takes out the equipment expenses that are legally required to be removed for contingency budgets. Therefore the new (hybrid) budget proposal and subsequent contingency budget may be the same number.

Photos by Howard Owens

May 14, 2011 - 2:10pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Elections, School Budgets.

(Pictured from left, Wayne Guenther, Al McGinnis, Amy Barone.)

It's that time of year again -- time to vote for the Batavia City School District budget and fill seats on its board of education.

Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17.

Voting locations are: Batavia Middle School (for residents of City Ward 1, District 1, 2 or 3, and City Ward 2, District 1, 2 or 3); Jackson School (for residents of City Ward 3, District 1 or 2; City Ward 4, District 1, 2 or 3, and City Ward 5, District 1); and Robert Morris (for residents of Ward 5, District 2 or 3, or Ward 6, District 1 or 2).

There are three candidates. One is an incumbent, two are newcomers.

Wayne Guenther, the incumbent, is now approaching the end of his second term. He is a retired teacher with years of experience in education.

Amy Barone, one of the newcomers, is a loan servicing manager at Five Star Bank and a lifelong resident of Batavia. She is also the mother of two students in the district.

Al McGinnis, the other newcomer, is a retired manager for Brown & Root Services, an international oil and construction firm. Prior to that, he was a soldier. He has lived overseas, as required by both jobs, but with an official residence here in Batavia for the past 30 years. Places he has lived and worked include the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. He is married, and has a son who graduated from Batavia High School.

The candidates took time to answer some questions about the budget, their motivations for running, and other issues.

April 30, 2010 - 1:53pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in events, school board, School Budgets.
Event Date and Time: 
May 18, 2010 - 12:00pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia City School District's budget vote and board election will take place from noon until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

Residency in the school district is required for voting eligibility. Voting will take place at the following sites:

  • Jackson Elementary School, 411 South Jackson St.
  • Robert Morris Elementary School, 80 Union St.
  • Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St.

Please contact the board office at 343-2480 for more information.

May 21, 2008 - 1:18pm

And so it begins and ends again.  When you think of it that is what happens in our lives.   Each and every day something begins, something else ends and we deal with more and more things that are in the middle.   I sometimes wonder if my life was a book how I would create the chapters and exactly how many of them there are exactly.... who knows.

This week I started Directing and Producing the 2008 Summer Youth Theater Show - JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR.  It will be held this year at Batavia High School in August.  This is a real treat for me because once upon a time, I was Jesus in Superstar and it was an amazing experience.   My wife played Mary Magadeline in fact.  Now it comes full circle.  I am working with 70 plus young people to bring this classic to the stage.  I find that all truly amazing.  So that was this week's beginning. 

The ending was the successful vote for the propositions and the City of Batavia School Budget.  This was my friend Dick Stutzman's last budget, he retires in July.  Dick and I have been through a ton of budgets and we were successful with most all.  If the public knew all the work it took to put to together a $39 Million budget, you would understand.   We have succeeded here because of the due dilligence of Dick Stutzman, first as our Assistant to the Business Administrator, then as the Business Administrator and finally as our Superintendent of Schools.  Batavia City Schools have been so lucky to have this wonderful caring veteran working daily on the behalf of our students. One thing I can say about him is that he always participated, always was willing to learn and share and always worked hard for the children.  He cared for this district.  If you see him - pass along some thanks.

And now to the future.  A little vacation the end of this month, the end of the long Primary Season that will bring us our nominees and more late nights and trips to the south of Warsaw to relax and have fun...doing summer stuff.....which reminds me.... The average temperature for the month of May is like 65..... Have we hit that yet....????  Who knows...that is probably in another chapter.





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