Library referendum successful; Daly, McNall win Haldane seats
By Chip Rowe
Voters on Tuesday (May 21) overwhelmingly approved school district budgets in Cold Spring and Garrison and added new members to the Haldane and Garrison boards. Voters in Garrison also approved increasing funding for the Desmond-Fish library from $75,000 to $300,000 annually.
According to the New York State United Teachers union, only 10 of 576 school district budgets across the state were defeated on Tuesday. Eight of those 10 budgets were among the 18 in which districts asked voters to override the newly permanent, state-mandated tax cap, it said. The Haldane and Garrison budgets were each below the cap.
In Cold Spring, voters approved the proposed $24.6 million budget, 465-110. It represents an increase of 2 percent from last year, which is under the state-mandated tax cap.
The board also asked voters to approve spending of up to $1.6 million on capital improvements (which passed, 451-121) and up to $75,000 for a school bus and equipment for utility vehicles (which passed, 457-116).
Haldane had three candidates for two seats on its five-member board, currently held by Jen Daly and Laura Hammond, who did not seek re-election to her second full term. Daly won a third, 3-year term with 411 votes, and the second seat will be filled by Sean McNall, the artistic director and director of education for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, who received 345 votes. Laura O’Connell got 268 votes.
Anne Dinio, the business manager for the district, said she could not provide the precise tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value until the tax warrant is prepared in August, but she said the rate is expected to increase by about 2.7 percent.
Fifteen percent of the district’s 3,947 registered voters (which includes 27 residents of Fishkill at the district’s northern border) came to the polls.
Garrison district residents voted 328-98 to approve an $11 million budget for 2019-20, an increase of 1 percent over last year.
There were two candidates for two seats on the seven-member board currently held by Jill Corson Lake and Derek DuBois, who did not run for re-election to a fourth term. Lake got 318 votes to win a second term and newcomer Sarah Tormey, a romance novelist who is president of the Garrison’s Children Education Fund (GCEF), received 339. Because GCEF’s bylaws do not allow its board members to also serve on the school board, Tormey will step down and be succeeded by Karen Nelson.
The Garrison district had a 21 percent turnout among its 2,055 registered voters.
Under the approved budget, the tax rate will increase to $21.24 per $1,000 of assessed value, from $20.81. For a home in Philipstown with a market value of $700,000, that will translate to about $140 annually.
The ballot did not include a proposition to approve spending for a high-efficiency hot water heating system plus air conditioning in elementary and middle school classrooms that was estimated last fall to cost $7.6 million. Board President Ray O’Rourke said the board hopes to present the proposition to voters in the fall.
A referendum presented to Garrison school district voters to increase funding for the Desmond-Fish Public Library from $75,000 to $300,000 annually passed, 264-162.
The owner of a Garrison home assessed at $300,000 will see his or her annual library tax increase from $51 (17 cents per $1,000 of assessed value) to $192 (64 cents per $1,000). As Philipstown residents, Garrison homeowners also pay a tax of 27 cents per $1,000 to the Butterfield Library in Cold Spring.
The library board said the additional $225,000 annually will increase the percentage of public support in its $678,000 budget from 20 percent to 45 percent. It said other libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System average 78 percent public support.
“On behalf of our board of trustees, many thanks to all who voted ‘yes’ for the library referendum, and to all who voted ‘no,’ as well,” said Anita Prentice, president of the library board, in a statement. “Our library’s mission is to sustain democracy, and that’s what happened. Throughout this process, people have listened to each other and disagreed respectfully, an ideal of civic discourse.”