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Batavia Board of Education member Patrick Burk cast the deciding vote last night to save city taxpayers from an over five-percent property tax increase.

Last night's school board meeting lasted three hours, but elected officials came away with a new budget proposal that shaves over $275,000 off of the local tax levy. The proposed tax increase is now 4.13-percent. It goes to a public vote in June.

Board president Andy Pedro says that’s better than adopting a contingency budget, and bypassing the voters.

"I just think it's our obligation to put another budget in front of voters," says Pedro. "Now if they shoot it down again, they're still telling us no, but our hands our tied." A defeated second budget would mean the district defaults to the contingency plan.

"We gave the voters the best option, in terms of what would be best for the kids and the district," says Pedro.

Board member Steve Hyde improvised the budget proposal last night as a sort of “hybrid.” Hyde combined cuts from the contingency plan with a $170,000 savings in teacher retirements.

The plan does not touch the district’s reserve fund.

"That's for a rainy day, because next year could be really terrible and tough," says Hyde. He also pointed to a contingency budget condition that prohibits community members from using certain district facilities, such as athletic fields, for free.

"A contingency budget is really going to put a hardship on some of those community organizations that depend on our facilities," says Hyde.

The “hybrid” budget passed 5-2. It will go to a vote June 21st.

If the budget is voted down, a contingency budget – now with a higher tax rate at 5.13-percent – will be adopted.

NOTE: A new contingency budget, if adopted, would contain a different property tax figure than the first-version contingency plan. School officials explained to WBTA News that each budget presented to voters has a subsequent related contingency budget. The new proposal (the hybrid) already takes out the equipment expenses that are legally required to be removed for contingency budgets. Therefore the new (hybrid) budget proposal and subsequent contingency budget may be the same number.

Board member Patrick Burk had a few hoops to jump through to get to last night’s meeting. Burk had originally opted out, so that he could work the polls as an elections official.

At about 9:05pm, Burk got a call to come to the meeting to break a 3-3 tie in the vote on a contingency budget.

But at the same time, lawmen walked in the polling place door to confiscate the voting machines, after Jane Corwin’s campaign filed a court order barring any votes from being counted.

Burk told the board he’d be about thirty-five minutes, and he stayed to argue with the officers.

The court order was later lifted, the police left, and Burk rushed over to the board meeting, where he voted “no” to the contingency budget.

Burk told WBTA, quote:
“It was the right thing to do.”

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