Education

Voters Overwhelmingly Pass School Budget

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Joseph Greenfield, left, gives the budget and election results to School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon (sitting), while School Board President Mike Sclafani, right, looks on. Credits: Bob Dumas
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MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Mahopac School District voters overwhelmingly approved the budget when they went to the polls last week, while also electing two newcomers and an incumbent to the Board of Education.

Some 76 percent of the voters cast a “yes” vote for the budget, passing the measure by a 1,147-370 margin.  School officials said it’s no wonder this year’s budget received such resounding support: it included the smallest increase in spending and in the tax levy in 10 years, and actually called for a slight decrease in the tax rate.

The overall budget came in at $120,119,052, up just $120,285 from last year, or .10 percent. The tax levy—the amount of money to be raised by taxes—saw a very slight decrease of .12 percent, dropping from $84,101,189 to $84,000,268.

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The tax rate for residents in the town of Carmel will drop from $40.55 to $40.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, while Putnam Valley residents will see a decrease from $24.33 to $24.30 per $1,000.

“I am very happy; I think we gave the people a great budget and we will work hard to keep the budget in line and to meet the needs of our students and the needs of our constituents,” said Dr. Dennis Creedon, superintendent of schools.

Creedon said he was pleased with the voter turnout, which was up slightly from last year.

“We had an increase over last year of more than 100 [voters] and I think the community came out not only to support the budget, but to vote for the [school board] candidates,” he said.

School Board President Mike Sclafani said it has taken a while, but he believes the district is back on solid financial ground.

‘I think it’s been many, many years of hard work by the board, the district employees, the superintendent and Mr. [Ron] Clamser (assistant superintendent for business),” Sclafani said. “I’m extremely happy about the position we are in, unlike a lot of communities. It’s been a long ride but the work is finally starting to show.”

In the race for school board trustee, the voters chose two newcomers—Mike Cazzari and Michael Mongon—and re-elected one incumbent: Lucy Massafra. Cazzari, who is chief of the Carmel Police Department, finished with by far and away the most ballots to take first place. The final vote tally was as follows:

Michael Cazzari 998

Michael Mongon 803

Lucy Massafra 768

Patti DeMatteo 722

Tilde Zimmerman 342

Ondina Colasuonno 294

Zimmerman was an incumbent board member seeking a second term. Current Trustee Marc Pekowsky decided not to seek re-election.

“We are always excited to have some new blood on the board,” Sclafani said. “I’m sorry to see Mrs. Zimmerman and Mr. Pekowsky go, but new blood is always welcome.  It’s nice to have a new set of eyes looking at things.”

Cazzari said that while he’s flattered to receive an overwhelming number of votes

“I was just looking to give back and help out, but it’s flattering that it turned out that way,” Cazzari said of the election results. “I am looking forward to this and hopefully we will be able to make things a little bit better for the kids. It looks like they did a great job with this budget and we will see what we can improve on. We have a great group of people working here at the school, from transportation to the secretaries and all the teachers. My whole purpose is to give back and if we can help these people make things even better for our kids, then we’ve been a success.”

DeMatteo wished the winners best of luck with their upcoming school board endeavors.

“I would like to congratulate Mike, Mike, and Lucy on their block win,” she said. “My family is very proud of the impact we made on the wonderful Mahopac residents after less than two years as a Mahopac resident.  It seems clear that many in Mahopac were hoping for change. Going forward we all want what is best for our children and community.”

Voters also approved two propositions. Proposition B, which called for the approval of $500,000 bond for the purchase of new buses and/or vans, was passed 1,075-433. Proposition C, which creates a five-year $2.5 million capital reserve fund targeting school building improvement projects, was okayed by a 1,072-425 margin.

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