Residents hit polls to vote on school budgets

Taxpayers throughout Westchester County headed to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots on school budgets in their districts.

Voters in Mount Vernon failed to pass the $203 million budget by a margin of fewer than 70 votes. The budget was slated to produce a property tax increase of up to 12.3 percent. Residents say they wanted to give students what they need, but concede it is difficult amid a recession.

Last year, school sports were cut when the budget failed to pass. This year, pre-kindergarten classes, summer school and dozens of teaching jobs are on the chopping block.

Though the budget was defeated last year, a citywide effort called ?Save Our Sports? raised nearly $1 million to fund athletics in the district. Residents wonder if a similar effort will be necessary this year. School officials say the budget may be voted on again June 16.

School budgets have passed in Lakeland, Rye, Scarsdale, Newburgh, Greenburgh, North Rockland, Bedford, Pelham and Highland Falls, which produced a 16.53 percent property tax hike. The Rye tax increase was a mere 1.7 percent, which is fairly low compared with other districts.

In many districts that cross town lines, the tax changes may vary. Part of the Bedford district will see a 3.25 percent tax cut, while in other parts of the district, taxes will go up less than 1 percent.

Westchester School Vote '09 Results

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