Clymer Voters Quash Idea Of Merger With Panama

Voters in the Clymer Central School District quahsed any chance of a merger with Panama anytime soon.

More than 800 voters in the district turned out Monday to cast their vote; the majority of which turned out to be a vote in opposition. Unofficial results show of Clymer voters, 654 people voted against the merger and 186 voted in favor.

On the contrary, albeit marginally, voters in Panama approved the merger by way of 192 votes in favor and 168 against.

The two school districts had been involved in a feasibility study over the last couple months in an attempt to merge the two districts. Learning Design Associates, a feasibility agency, conducted the study over the summer and gave the two communities their final report that recommended how the two communities should go about consolidating.

A reoccurring question and on the surface what appeared to end the merger before it began, was with regard to the Panama penalty the state slapped the school district with for a cost report of a capital project that was filed late during a previous administration. The penalty was to be paid in 10-year time frame; Panama is currently in its fifth year. Each year since the penalty was announced, Sen. Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell have ensured that the state set aside $500,000, normally referred to as bullet aid, to slowly chip away at the total $4.9 million penalty. The remaining balance on the penalty is $2.5 million. Goodell was confident that the bullet aid would continue. Gov. Cuomo recently vetoed a separate piece of legislation that would have forgiven Panama of the remaining money entirely.

Had both communities approved the merger during the straw vote, a second and final vote, or a statutory referendum, would have been held in January.

Because one of the two districts voted against the merger in the straw vote the current merger study ceases. This does not mean both communities couldn’t seek out other avenues of merging in the future.