After district residents rejected the proposed 2012 - 2013 budget for a second time on Tuesday, Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School will now have to adopt a contingent budget.
When the $8.5 million proposed budget was first put to a public vote on May 8 with a 4.5 percent tax levy increase, district residents voted 275 to 104 against it.
An exit survey conducted that day showed 81 percent of people who voted against the spending plan listed the tax levy increase as at least one of their reasons for voting against the budget.
The proposed increase was lowered to 2.79 percent for Tuesday’s vote, but the budget was defeated 176 to 114.
“We attempted to listen to the voters by lowering the proposed tax levy increase, but in these difficult economic times, voters decided against the 2.79 percent increase as well,” Superintendent of Schools Dan Russom said in a news release. “Adopting a contingent budget will result in further cuts at the district, and it is another sign that significant changes will have to be made going forward in order to maintain the quality of educational programs provided to students.”
The proposed budget would have increased spending by one percent compared to the current school year. It also included more than $207,000 in spending reductions compared to the 2011 to 2012 budget — including eliminating two custodial and bus driver positions, cutting driver’s education and slicing the sports budget in half.
Under a contingent budget, there can be no increase in the tax levy compared to the previous year.
For Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School, adopting a contingent budget will require cutting another almost $116,000 from the proposed budget, meaning the district will have to eliminate the purchase of a new bus and other equipment such as computers and bus cameras.
The district also will have to start charging outside groups to use school facilities.
Also on Tuesday, district residents voted 143 to 130 against a proposition to use about $30,000 of capital reserve money to repair the walk-in cooler and refrigerator in the school cafeteria.
The original equipment was purchased in 1997 and is said to be no longer operating effectively, so school officials will examine other options for repairing the equipment.
All but two of the two dozen school budgets put before New York voters who rejected earlier proposals passed on Tuesday. Cheektowaga-Sloan was the other district to see its budget defeated.