When voters take to the polls on the third Tuesday of May, they will have two choices when it comes to their local school district’s proposed budget for the coming year. They can vote yes, or they can vote no.
If the majority of votes cast are in favor of the tentative spending plan, the proposed budget with its estimated tax levy impact will be adopted by the district’s school board, tax warrants will be issued and all will move forward as usual.
But what happens if voters defeat the budget proposal put forward by the board?
According to Doreen Rowe, who serves as Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at DCMO BOCES, districts basically have two options if that occurs. They can either choose to move directly to a contingency budget, she explained, or go to a second vote with either the same or a revised proposal. If a district does decide to go to a second vote – held, according to state guidelines, on the third Tuesday in June – and that proposal is defeated once more, they are required by state law to adopt a contingency budget by July 1.
Each year, the state establishes a contingency budget cap, which limits the amount a district can increase its spending over the prior year. This cap, according to Rowe, is calculated based on the Consumer Price Index.
“This year it’s zero,” reported Rowe, or the same level of spending as last year.