MONTROSE, N.Y. – Hendrick Hudson School District’s bond referendum was defeated by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 Wednesday night, with an unofficial vote of 1,777 “no” and 977 “yes” votes. That number does not include the absentee ballots, however, the amount of absentees submitted is not enough to change the election’s outcome. The announcement was made to an audience of disappointed school board members and district officials at 9:05 p.m.
“We thank everyone for coming out, certainly some of us are disappointed, but this is a democratic process. Our district still has needs, but we will address these,” said Superintendent of Hendrick Hudson Schools, Daniel McCann.
Board of Education President Marion Walsh said, “We need to work for the future of our students.” She added, “The negativity and the focus on the past has to stop.”
The bond proposed financing $25.1 million in capital improvements in the district and was slated to affect all five of the district’s schools. The bond would have financed a stand-alone performing arts center, new synthetic turf athletic fields and science classroom upgrades in the district’s middle and high school. Some infrastructure repairs were also included in the plan.
A controversial proposal, the district would have financed nearly half of the cost of the bond by earmarking a recent payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) settlement with Peekskill’s Wheelabrator RESCO facility to offset costs. The PILOT agreement was for $12.5 million and the district would have earmarked $10.3 million to offset the bond’s cost. Taxpayers would have been ultimately responsible for the cost of the bond.
The district spent $16,000 preparing the bond proposal with the construction manager. The district also spent $10,000 in engineering costs, but Blue Mountain Middle School’s aging septic system would have eventually required these costs, the district said.
School district officials said the bond would have increase homeowner’s taxes by about $100 annually for Peekskill residents with an assessment of $7,700, and about $198 for Cortlandt residents with the same assessment. Those amounts represent the cost after RESCO settlements were earmarked toward the capital projects costs.
Residents of the Hendrick Hudson schools rejected the district's bond just one day after voters in the Rye School District defeated a $19.9 million bond referendum.