Clymer Plan Denied

Ripley, Westfield Approve Spending Proposals

Photo by David Prenatt

The Clymer Central School District budget proposal has been defeated for a consecutive year.

Proposals from the Ripley and Westfield school districts, whose budget proposals were initially voted down last year, were approved Tuesday.

The Clymer Central School District, which needed a 60 percent supermajority approval, saw the community deny the $11,495,924 2019-20 school budget by a vote of 580 to 459, short of the desired rating. The budget carried a 13.29 percent tax levy increase.

“Disappointment,” said Superintendent Ed Bailey when asked about his initial reaction to the results.

The district received a 55 percent approval rating, nixing hopes the budget would be approved.

Below, Residents from Clymer Central School District register voted on the proposed budget which included a 13 percent increase in the tax levy. Photo by David Prenatt

Last year, Clymer did earn more votes in favor of the budget, 238 to 237, but the turnout, as it was this year, was not enough for a super majority. Upon revote, the community by a vote of 325 to 111 in June 2018.

Now, the board of education is tasked with creating another budget proposal ahead of the June 10 budget hearing and the June 18 budget revote.

“I don’t know,” Bailey said attempting to explain the turnout. “We’re obviously confused as to what the taxpayers want. They voted down a merger and now have voted down two budgets. It puts the board and the school district in a situation where we’re not sure what they want.”

Bailey did not know as of Tuesday night what the board would propose to the community in the follow-up budget proposal. However, Bailey was certain such a proposal would include a tax levy increase less than 13 percent.

“I don’t know at this point. We have to have time to think about the future,” he said.

Bailey, however, was “very happy” with the 580 individuals who chose to support the budget.

“It’s a shame the constitution is written in a way where the minority rules,” Bailey said.

Bailey and school officials have long warned of potential program cuts that would be needed if the 13 percent increase was not approved. The superintendent again warned that any additional cuts to the district will be “hurtful to programs” — actions he did not want to take.

In Ripley, while voting down both budget proposals last year, residents approved of the $9,399,854 2019-20 school budget by a vote of 195 to 131. The budget is a 2.38 percent increase from the previous year. The total tax levy of $1,888,023 is an increase of 1.43 percent from the 2018-19 school year.

“I’m very excited,” said Superintendent William Caldwell.

Caldwell said coming off a contingency budget, the district is heading in the “right direction.”

Last year, the Ripley Central School District featured a 2018-19 proposed budget of $9.2 million and was denied by voters with 91 voting against and 90 voting in favor.

It again failed by a vote of 264 to 106.

While the budget was approved, Caldwell maintained that with 131 votes against the budget, work within the community still remained.

“All in all, I’m very happy with the results and excited that they have shown some confidence in us but there’s still some work to do in the community,” he said.

In other news, residents in the Westfield Academy and Central School District approved the $16,470,518 2019-20 school budget by a vote of. The budget is a .01 percent decrease from the previous year. The total tax levy of $6,105,962 remained flat.

Last year, the school district proposed a 2018-19 school budget of $16.7 million. Voters disapproved with 295 voting against and 196 voting in favor. Upon revote, the district passed its 2018-19 budget 581 to 267. The budget totalled $16,472,418, a reduction of $243,616 from the previously proposed budget of $16,716,034.