BC budget passes comfortably

Voters in the Bethlehem Central School District have approved an $86.8 million budget by a vote of 3,186 to 1,581.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano said he was elated at the result.

"It's been a long year of work since the election last year," he said from the BC High School gymnasium following the tally. "I'm grateful for all of the people who made this budget happen."

That includes, Tebbano continued, BC employees. All agreed to some degree of salary freeze in the 2011-12 school year, saving the district $1.3 million off its contractual salary baseline.

Three school board seats were open, for which eight candidates ran. Incumbents Laura Ladd Bierman and Matthew Downey both retained their seats with 2,443 and 2,227 votes, respectively, and newcomer Caitrin Navarro clenched third with 1,886 votes.

Board President James Dering did not run for another term.

A proposition to purchase new school buses passed 2,563 to 2,146. The Bethlehem Public Library budget passed 3,100 to 1,376. All counts do not include absentee ballots.

Tamra Wright ran unopposed for library trustee.

The turnout of 4,767 voters was about 200 people less than at last year's vote, but today's weather was also inclement for most of the day. The proportion of yes-no votes was nearly identical year-to-year, though.

The BC budget carries a 2 percent hike in the tax levy, which Tebbano described as one of the lowest in the area. State aid cuts prompted many changes in the budget, including the closure of Clarksville Elementary.

"The whole budget created a lot of difficult choices for us," Tebbano said. "We are trying to the best of our ability to move ahead...things are going to be a little tight but we're going to get through it.""

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