MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – A day after voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Mount Vernon School District budget and unseated two incumbent board members, residents in the city remain split about the lopsided decision.
Voters turned down the $225,885,332 spending plan and two percent increase in the tax levy 1,169 to 773. It was a stunningly light turnout, with approximately six percent of eligible voters making their way to the polls.
Willie Jones, who has no children currently enrolled in the district, said that he believed the turmoil and alleged corruption that is prevalent in the city may have played a role in the uneven vote.
“I’m surprised, not that it failed, but that it was rejected by so many people,” he said. “It’s important for our kids to get a good education, but at this point people are wondering just where all this money is going.”
School officials will now have the option to tweak the budget and present it to the public before a second vote. If it fails again, the district would be severely compromised as it operated on an austerity budget.
“We need to invest more in our future if we want this city to thrive once again,” Pam Autnez added. “Our children already are facing an uphill battle. We’re asking for trouble if the budget doesn’t pass the second time.”
Resident Henry Grey said that he hopes that the vote will serve as a wake up call to city officials that have been accused of crime and corruption recently.
“Our previous superintendent [Welton Sawyer] nearly destroyed our schools and cost countless children a strong education,” he said. “We need a fresh start around the city so we can clean up.”
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