Fails to reach threshold to override cap
Voters rejected a budget proposal by the Garrison school district on Tuesday (May 17) that would have raised taxes by 9.18 percent, far above the 2.2 percent allowed by a state tax cap.
Because the $12.36 million in proposed spending for 2022-23 exceeded the cap, state law required at least 60 percent of voters to approve. Instead, the vote was a tie, 314-314. The 628 ballots represented a 30 percent turnout among 2,123 registered voters and were 2.5 times the number cast in 2021, when the budget passed with 75 percent of the vote.
The Garrison school board, which ratified the results at its meeting Wednesday, can adopt a contingency budget or present the same or a revised budget for a second vote on June 21.
The board will consider its next steps at a meeting on Wednesday (May 25).
“There is disappointment,” said Superintendent Carl Albano on May 17. “It was a high ask. I know that people were surprised by the [9.18 percent] proposal.”
Albano said that a contingency budget, which allows for no tax levy increase, would require sharp cuts. He said he expected to have a proposal to the board within a week to 10 days. He added that a revised budget would have to be completed by June 14 for a public hearing in advance of the vote.
“We don’t want to end up in contingency,” said Sarah Tormey, the board president.
Garrison was one of 15 districts that attempted to override the state tax cap for 2022-23. Last year, five school budgets of 675 statewide were defeated but all five districts organized a second vote, according to the New York State School Boards Association.
Garrison voters did approve, by a 511-112 vote, a measure that will allow the district to contract for two to five years to send its high school students to the Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery school district, rather than annually.
Voters returned Kent Schacht and Sarah Tormey to the seven-member board for three-year terms. Both ran unopposed. Schacht was elected last year to a one-year term and Tormey will be serving her second full term.
Joey Asher contributed reporting.