One Vote Short

Board of education officials reviewed absentee and provisional ballots April 24 with the hopes of finding enough votes to swing the two-vote defeat of Secaucus’ 2012-13 school budget. They came up one vote short.

Board of Education president Sal Manente said Hudson County Board of Election clerk Michael Harper went over the ballots in front of Secaucus officials this morning and only a single vote would have been picked up in a recount, so the budget was officially defeated by voters by two votes.

The Secaucus delegation included Manente, school business administrator Ron Smith, and trustee Jack McStowe.

“There really isn’t much else that we can do,” said Manente. “Years ago we could have challenged the machines, but today they are all computerized and generate a sheet when the machine is opened at the end of the evening. Before there was a possibility of someone misreading a number or placing a number into the wrong column.”

The $31.6M tax levy for the budget now goes to the mayor and council as it did last year on defeat. Last year, school officials and town council members clashed over $1.1M in cuts made by the council.

Manente said the council viewed this year’s budget before it went to a public vote and felt it was fair.

“We just hope they don’t cut much, although they don’t have to cut anything because of the cuts they made last year of $1.1 million,” added Manente.

The defeated budget would represent a $74 increase on the average home in town.

The mayor and council meets tonight in its regularly scheduled, bi-monthly public meeting.

The board of education will hold its regularly monthly meeting on Thursday, April 26.

The council has until l May 21 to approve a budget.