Bethel Petition Asks To Vote Again

Front Page / Mar. 22, 2006 11:00pm EST

By Chris Costanzo

By Chris Costanzo

Heidi Nikolaidis and a number of other Bethel citizens are generating a petition to call a special school district meeting to re-vote the school budget. According Nikolaidis, the petition should be available for signature this week at various places in town.

The budget, as presented to the voters on March 7, contained substantial cuts ($284,000) made possible by a personnel reductions in the schools. The cuts were generated by voter dissatisfaction last year with the steady rise in school property taxes, although the Bethel electorate seems divided on the issue. It took three school district meetings last year to approve a reduced budget by a close vote of 106-100.

This year, the voters expressed concern that the budget cuts would have an adverse impact on the elementary grades, so the budget was amended to reinstate $80,000 to support positions in the elementary school. The budget, with the added money, passed by a close vote of 86-83.

According to the latest calculations by the supervisory union, the $4,484,566 budget approved on March 7 will generate a residential school property tax rate of $2.2717. The original budget proposal of $4,404,566 would have generated a tax rate of $2.177. 

The budget threshold that would eliminate a state penalty for excess spending is $4,391,774, which would generate a tax rate of $2.1619.

Last year's budget of $4,549,972 generated a tax rate of $2.131.

On Both Sides

Supporters of a re-vote are on both sides of the issue. Some say flatly that Bethel's children will suffer from a low budget, and wish a further increase beyond the $80,000 that was added back in last March. Others want to eliminate the $80,000 addition.

Some voters have told The Herald that a new meeting is necessary because of the low turnout and closeness of the vote.

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