South Colonie begins budget talks

f Education has started the budget process extra early this year in an effort to bring information to the public sooner in order to persuade residents to pass the 2009-2010 budget despite some negative feelings among the district's tax base.

Board President Tim Ryan announced the beginning of the budget season at a Tuesday, Jan. 6, meeting.

It's going to be a tough budget year, Ryan said, before explaining to the small crowd and board members that the district is hoping to encourage the public to get more involved in this year's budget, as the district examines it line by line.

"We really do want people to participate in this," he said.

The first budget discussion meeting took place Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the district's office, and covered a range of topics, including transportation.

One of the reasons for the early discussions is the defeated October press box vote. In the election, the district had hoped to get taxpayer approval to construct a new press box on the athletic field of Colonie Central High School to replace the existing 40-year-old structure, which did not meet fire and safety regulations when inspected this fall.

The box was given an extension of its use until Nov. 22, and can now no longer be used.

A new box would have cost $149,600, however the funding for the project came from money set aside in last year's budget and would not have cost the taxpayers any money.

But the initiative to build the new box was rejected in a 929-to-805 vote.

According to Ryan, the proposal received the fewest votes at Veeder Elementary School, which lies within the town lines of Niskayuna.

In September, Niskayuna residents who live within the borders of the South Colonie Central School District were shocked to see their school tax bills amounting to hundreds of dollars more than they had expected and had seen last year.

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