By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
Faced with a firm deadline in which to adopt a preliminary budget for 2013-14, the Midd-West school board reversed its vote late Monday night and approved the $32.85 million plan.
The board initially voted 5-4 to reject the preliminary spending plan just before 10 p.m.
Later, during the four-hour public meeting and after The Daily Item went to press, the board was informed by school administrators that it would have to meet again in a few days to hash out the budget so the plan could be put on public display for at least 30 days as mandated by law before its required June 30 final adoption.
The board members were also assured that though the budget could not be increased before final approval, they could reduce it.
At that point, another vote was taken and it was approved by 5-4, with board member Corey Smith switching his vote to an approval.
Sticking with their votes to reject the preliminary budget were board president Victor Abate, Ronald Hoffman, Shawn Sassaman and Ronald Wilson.
“I didn’t have enough time to review the budget,” said Abate, explaining his vote opposing the plan. “I want to look and make sure what we’re spending our money on is what’s needed. I have a responsibility and I felt I was being rushed.”
He’d like to see another 3 percent pared from the budget, if possible. A tentative workshop meeting to discuss the proposal will be held at 7 p.m. June 3.
Under the preliminary budget, property taxes will rise by 3.6 mills, or about $85 per average homeowner.
The increase covers rising expenses, particularly retirement benefits, health insurance and debt service.