Voters rejected a $23 million capital improvement plan Tuesday proposed for the Skaneateles Central School District.
Taxpayers voted 685-478 against the plan that included a new middle school gymnasium, asbestos abatement, chalk board upgrades to white boards and an electronic sign, among many other repairs and upgrades.
"There is a high level of taxation in New York state and clearly this is a reflection of that," said Evan Dreyfuss, school board president.
Also on Tuesday, taxpayers approved 717-438 to allow the district to spend up to $77,810 on computer equipment and related accessories.
In the fall, district officials will take out a bond anticipation note to initiate the purchase of computer equipment, Interim Superintendent Judith Pastel said after the votes were counted. The district will wait until after officials receive more guidance from the state Department of Education, and plans to finalize purchases by December, Pastel said.
At board meetings leading up to the vote, some residents expressed concern about the scope of the project, and urged officials to re-evaluate what was included in the plan to lessen the burden on taxpayers. Other residents said the proposed work was necessary to keep the buildings operating efficiently and safely, now and in the future.
"A lot of this is maintenance and you have to do it at some time," Dreyfuss said about the items included in the plan before the votes were counted.
In the wake of votes against the capital improvement project, Dreyfuss and Pastel said they would spend the next several months talking with community members in an attempt to find out how to reframe the capital improvement project for a future vote.
"Because it's really critical that we get started on this," Pastel said.
Voters at the polling place offered a range of opinions Tuesday.
Tim Lewis graduated from Skaneateles High School in 2011 and said the buildings, to his recollection, did not seem in dire need of immediate repair.
"They don't need to re-do them," he said.
Pete and Mary Jo Nicholson felt otherwise.
To them, the middle school gymnasium that was proposed to be demolished and rebuilt at approximately $5 million was overdue.
"The conditions are pretty poor by comparison to Weedsport, Solvay and Marcellus," Mary Jo Nicholson said.
Peter Nicholson said the denying the improvement plan won't "be in the best interest of the kids."