Voters can’t cut and run


he vote to introduce Middletown’s proposed 2000-01 school budget was peculiar, to say the least.

It wasn’t so much the 5-1 approval vote, although the absence of three members was a little strange.

What was really peculiar was the voting by the Back-to-Basics faction, which has controlled the board since around 1995. Of the five-member majority, only board President N. Britt Raynor, who is not seeking re-election next month, voted for the tentative spending plan.

Robert Whittemore, another Back-to-Basics member, cast the lone dissenting vote, and the other three members of the pack were absent on this all-important night.

Of that group, Phil Scaduto, like Raynor, is not seeking election next month, but the other two, Robert Bucco and John Johnson, remain on the board.

It’s purely speculative to question their absences, but they certainly do give rise to that type of thinking.

Surely the board could have picked a night when all could be present to introduce to voters a spending plan that, if approved, will push the school tax rate up an amazing 17 cents, 9 cents for the base budget, 4 cents for debt service which voters have already approved, and 4 cents for the separate $2 million budget question.

The new school superintendent, Dr. Jack DeTalvo, is taking the unusual step of making 13 budget presentations between today and April 13 at 12 of the district’s 17 schools and on different days of the week to provide residents ample opportunity to attend.

The public hearing on the budget, which will be followed by a vote on adoption, is scheduled for March 28, and on April 18 it will be up to you, the voters, to decide what to do.

To be able to make the right decision, you need to educate yourself on why the township is facing such a difficult budget year. This spending plan includes not one penny of surplus money and the debt service tax levy is skyrocketing.

Ultimately it’s a real Catch 22. You can spend more money or accept some deep cuts. You can’t run and hide as some board members appear to have done.

Be sure to attend one of the scheduled budget presentations.