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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 19, 2005

Voorheesville passes budget easily at last

By Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — The school district’s $19.3 million budget, an increase of 3.5 percent from this year, passed on Tuesday night, with 58 percent voting for it and 42 percent against it. There were 722 yes votes and 523 no votes.

The public library vote also passed easily. All three propositions up for voter approval passed, including a $230,000 bus proposition and a capital reserve fund.

And, in a three-way race for two school board seats, David Gibson and Kevin Kroencke were elected.

One middle-aged mother on her way out of the polling place told The Enterprise she voted in favor of the budget. "I want the overall program to continue," she said.

A man in his late 60’s walked out of the middle school foyer after voting and said, "The budget keeps ratcheting up and I frankly didn’t see the justification for it."

Bill Kinisky, who rents an apartment in Voorheesivlle, said that the district has done a good job putting a cap on its spending. "Taxes go up, rent goes up," he said. "It’s a trickle down."

After the results were read a little after 11 p.m, Sarita Winchell, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said with a broad smile, "I’m very happy — and a bigger margin than last year!"

Last year, the budget passed by 114 votes, compared with 199 this year. In 2003, the budget passed by just nine votes.

As the votes where being tallied late Tuesday night, school board member Thomas McKenna told The Enterprise, "I predict it won’t be as close this year as it has been in the past."

He credited the "fiscal conservativeness" of Winchell and superintendent, Alan McCartney, over the years. The district "is reaping the benefits of it now," said McKenna.

School board member Richard Brackett said, "I didn’t hear a lot of negativity this year like I have in the past...I didn’t hear from two people."

Brackett and McKenna said that, as school board members, they are often buttonholed at Nichols’ Market in Voorheesville. McKenna said people are generally very open to school board members and, while he had heard concerns about lots of other matters, no one said anything about the budget to him this year.

Brackett thinks the difference is that residents are seeing "that we are trying to cut" spending, he said. The board is taking action, such as implementing a new energy-management program, he said.

Residents "see that you’re trying and it means a lot to the people," Brackett said. "We work really hard to cut where we can without jeopardizing anything."

Superintendent McCartney told The Enterprise that the district tries each year to put together a good budget and to keep the budget low. The success of next year’s budget is a result of long-term planning and the things "we’ve worked on," he said, such as putting the buses and computers on rotating purchase plans.

It’s a lot easier to work off a passed budget than a contingency budget, he said.

McCartney was also ecstatic about the capital reserve fund proposition passing, which received 677 yes votes and 545 no votes, meaning 55 percent of the voters supported it.

The establishment of a capital reserve fund is good financial management for the district over the next 10 years, McCartney said. The next step is for the district to decide which projects to work on first, and where to spend the dollars, such as replacing the ventilators at the elementary school, he said.

McCartney said that he is already working on making these decisions and now, with the capital reserve fund established, the district can bring in engineers and architects, he said.

Once the projects are organized, another vote will be held for residents to give the district permission to spend money out of the reserve.

The bus proposition passed with 731 yes votes, and 511 no votes. So, the district can buy new buses, two 60-passenger and two 20-passenger buses.

A proposition to sell the library building to the Voorheesville Public Library for a dollar passed with 878 yes votes and 349 no votes.

Voorheesville has "a good board and a strong budget," to set the stage for a great transition for the next superintendent, McCartney said.

Voter registration workers said that there was a high turnout this year, with lines out the door at 2 p.m. when the poles opened; the line went out into the street at 4:30, 6, and 7:30 p.m.

"Usually high turnout means a positive response for the budget," board president Robert Baron said as the voting machines machines were turned off for the night.

"We had one of the lowest increases in the area," Baron said of the budget’s 3.5 percent hike. "At the last budget presentation, there wasn’t even one question," he said.

After four runs, Kevin Kroencke has finally earned a spot on the school board with 483 votes. "It’s been a long road," Kroencke said directly after he found out he had won.

David Gibson also secured a seat with the most votes, at 557.

Michael Snyder, a relative newcomer to Voorheesville, lost by only 19 votes, at 464.

Michael Bates was a write-in candidate. He garnered 273 write-in votes in a relatively short amount of time.

Bates said that he received phone calls from residents last week "expressing interest in another choice."

"The phone calls kept coming in," he said. He talked to his wife and daughters and went for it, he said.

He started his aggressive write-in campaign on Friday, May 13. There wasn’t a particular issue that he had concerns about, Bates said, nor did he comment about his competitors or elaborate on why he thought another choice was needed. He did say that he has been in the district for 10 years and wants to make choices that would benefit the district as a whole.

Kroencke said, for his campaign, he "relied on the old homemade signs and flyers," plus his reputation. He went on to say that the same signs had been used for the four elections.

Kroencke, who works in the State Education Department’s Office of Professions, said he was happy the community felt he was worthy of their support.

"The first time I ran," he said, "I lost by about 12 votes, then the margin of defeat went up from there. I’m glad to have reversed the tide. This is something I’ve been working on since I’ve moved here."

When asked how he felt about garnering the most votes, Gibson said he was pleased the community supported him. He went on to say that he wasn’t a single-issue candidate and that he will now make sure that he listens to all the individuals in the district.

Gibson said he pledges to serve everyone who elected him, not to just serve himself or family, or any single group.

While election results were announced, Snyder cordially shook the hands of Kroencke and Gibson and said, "Nice job, guys," as he left with one of his supporters.

He had told The Enterprise earlier that night that his main focus in his campaign was to get his name out to "introduce myself to community." He personally went door-to-door, he said, and didn’t send out printed literature. In retrospect, he thought that perhaps he should have run with printed material as well, but, he said, his approach instead was face-to-face, and to meet as many people as possible.

In a letter to The Enterprise editor on Wednesday, Snyder, who is the marketing director for the Empire State Convention Center, said that good had come from the race although he wasn’t victorious. He said running gave him the opportunity to meet so many residents "and make some new good friends along the way."

The Voorheesville Public Library also had its election on Tuesday night. The library’s $821,500 budget passed with 731 in support and 491 against, meaning 60 percent voted for the library budget.

Dick Ramsey, the vice president of library board, was standing by on Tuesday night to hear the results. He said that they usually don’t have to worry about the library budget passing, and that the school usually causes more controversies.

The library board is now starting to organize its residents’ advisory committee for the building project to expand the current facility.

Rita Stein, the only candidate running for the open seat on the library board, was elected with 653 votes.

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