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May 25, 2011 - 12:48am

Crucial budget vote rode on a busy Burk's shoulders

posted by WBTA News in election, Board of Education, Patrick Burk, NY-26.

Patrick BurkBatavia City School Board Member Patrick Burk was in a Catch-22 Tuesday evening.

Burk is a Genesee County elections official, and also the president of Batavia City Democrats. So naturally he was at the polling place at 9 p.m., when police walked in and attempted to confiscate the voting machines. It seems Jane Corwin’s campaign had obtained a court order to block any immediate counting of the votes.

“Corwin ‘allegedly’ had a court impound the machines, but I heard it was overturned,” says Burk.

While talking with police, Burk received a call on his cell phone from fellow board member Steve Hyde, which he ignored.

Then Hyde called again. Burk picked up – and suddenly found himself at the center of a debate over the Batavia City School District budget. Fellow board members had split 3-to-3, and Burk’s seventh vote would decide between a contingency budget, and a budget proposal improvised by Hyde.

“Give me about 35 minutes,” Burk said.

Forty minutes later, Burk walked into the board of education meeting on Washington Avenue, visibly out of breath.

Shortly after calling the meeting back into session, Board President Andy Pedro asked if there was any further discussion on the proposal to adopt a contingency plan.

“Well,” Burk deadpanned, “I’d like to see the options first,” receiving a chorus of laughs from the remaining board members.

A bit later in the meeting, Superintendent Margaret Puzio remarked tongue-in-cheek that board members “had all night,” to which Burk cheekily replied: “I’ve been awake since 4:30 a.m., Margaret – make me feel better.” More laughs.

Asked later in the evening about his frantic night, Burk simply stated: “Well, it was the right thing to do.”

(Photo courtesy Batavia City School District)

Dave Meyer
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That's some choice. Hold your nose and vote for a budget that while smaller than the first is still too high or vote your conscience and vote no and have a 'contingency' budget go into place that's higher than the original one that was voted down. I don't understand. I guess I'm just a dumb country boy. When I hear the term "contingency budget" I think this is the **absolute bare bones amount necessary to run the district**. Now if the BOE feels that they can get by with the first budget (that was defeated) and now they could get by with this next budget proposal (which is less than the first) how in hell can the contingency budget amount be higher than either of those numbers?!?!? What am I missing?? Something smells here.
Daniel Jones
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This is why we need a property tax cap School Boards and local governments will have a hard limit on what they can spend in order to keep taxes under the cap.
Dave Meyer
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I Googled and found this. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/excerpts/edn2023.htm You have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it, but Section 4 is where the formula for setting the contingency budget amount is calculated. It still doesn't make any sense for a contingency budget to be larger than the one the voters are voting on. That's just shoving it down the voters' throats.
Herb Chapman
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Since retaining the ability for community groups to use the district facilities is something that is going to remain in the budget, I would be interested in seeing a list of organizations that use the facilities, and about how much that costs the district.
John Roach
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Herb, you have a good point. Some sports groups use school property and so do some theater groups. My opinion is that any group that uses school property and charges admittance should pay the taxpayer back for cleanup and utilities. Groups that do not charge a fee, then I am fine with it. I am voting no, because the BOE has not addressed any of the real excesses.
Keith Boardman
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John - Out of curiousity, what "excesses" are you talking about? You've mentioned it twice, but haven't really said what they are.
John Roach
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Keith, paying twice what any other school district in Genesee County pays for substitute teachers. Paying about $30/hr for chaperones, are the two that bother me the most.
Keith Boardman
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Thanks John. Didn't know about either of those things.
Lindsay Coffta
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Elba: 65/day B-B: 65/day Oakfield: 75/day Batavia: 82.50/day Alexander: 85/day Chaperones at Batavia: approx 20/hr. All of these numbers are based on the paychecks that I've cashed after actually physically subbing and working at these districts, which I might add, are all located in Genesee county. They have all gone up in especially the past five years gradually to where they are now, and the order above (not including those such as Attica or Pembroke which also lie somewhere in the middle)has not moved around much either.
Mark Potwora
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If i read this right seems like all they did was nothing and just move some teacher retirement money around..I like the first idea to lower taxes to 3%..I am with John this and will still vote no..To tell us all to take it or leave it is wrong..Who does use the school for free..also lets all remember all those signs that Barone and Guenther knew nothing about who paid for them..There was a no vote and the board thinks that they cant just jam what they want down the tax payers throat...So i hope all who felt that Mr McGinnis got the shaft should vote no...Let those sign makers get the message..Hope Ms.Stevens won't be offend by the vote..
John Roach
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Lindsay, are you a Batavia district retired teacher?
WBTA News
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As a point of information, which was not included in my original article: the new proposed budget includes all of the cuts associated with a contingency budget. These include a year-long suspension on purchasing new district equipment, such as vehicles; and also some minor changes to what was referred to as "insurance at the administration level." -Geoff Redick, WBTA News
Thomas Mooney
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Batavia Players are the only ones benefiting from free use of the school buildings . Everone else pays a fee. Ironic that Burk had the deciding vote . Of course he doesn't want his group to pay. Obviously the Batavia Players use the buildings way to much or else this wouldn't be an issue .
Thomas Mooney
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Yes , Batavia Players charge the public to come to the shows , but nothing is given back to the schools to cover costs .Why and how have we let this happen?
WBTA News
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Please see the new note included in the school budget article. It may help clear up confusion pursuant to Dave Meyer's first comment. --Geoff Redick, WBTA News
John Roach
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Thomas, are you suggesting that there might be a conflict of interest?
Thomas Mooney
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I would say so John , wouldn't you?

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