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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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N.J. Voters Defeat Ridgewood, Teaneck School BudgetsApril 21, 2010, 8:57 AM EDT
By Terrence Dopp

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey voters rejected budgets for school systems including Ridgewood, Edison and Teaneck yesterday after the districts sought to raise property taxes that are already the highest in the U.S.

Voters turned down 260 of 479 budgets in 19 counties, or 54 percent, according to incomplete tallies reported by the Associated Press. A total of 537 school plans were considered. The last time a majority of the proposals failed in the state was in 1976, when 56 percent were rejected, according to data from the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Most of New Jersey’s school districts proposed increasing local levies to fund spending plans, after Governor Chris Christie slashed their aid. Christie, a Republican who took office Jan. 19, urged citizens to reject budgets in districts where teachers didn’t accept pay freezes to deal with his cuts.

“There was a frustration with taxes, the loss of state aid and a lot of other issues that just rolled into a tremendous snowball,” said Joseph Vallerini, president of the school board in Ridgewood, where the budget’s 93-vote loss is the first in his six years on the board.

Voters in Hudson County approved spending plans in Hoboken and Jersey City and rejected North Bergen’s proposal. In Mercer County, Princeton’s budget passed with 67 percent of the vote, while Hamilton Township’s failed. In Essex County, plans passed for Millburn, Bloomfield and Glen Ridge and failed in Cedar Grove. Results were posted on the county clerks’ Web sites.

State Help

School budgets rejected by voters are sent to municipal councils for cuts, and boards can appeal any council decision to the state education commissioner. Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the school-boards group, said taxes would still rise in most towns even if voters rejected the plans and reductions are made.

The governor proposed lowering state aid by as much as 5 percent of districts’ budgets to help close a $10.7 billion hole in his $29.3 billion spending plan without raising taxes. Fifty- nine of 588 districts would lose all state assistance under his plan, which needs approval from the Democrat-controlled Legislature by the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

Faced with reduced funding, 93 percent of the systems put forth spending plans that called for reducing staff, according to a pre-election survey by the school-boards association. More than half opted to cut programs.

Each year over the past three decades, less than 20 percent of voters turned out for New Jersey school elections, and a majority of plans were approved, according to the school-boards group. Jerry Cantrell, president of the New Jersey Taxpayers Association, predicted more turnout, and rejection, this year.

Teaneck, Hunterdon County

Turnout was 21 percent in Middlesex County, where voters rejected 15 of 24 budgets, according to the county Web site. Edison’s plan was defeated, 62 percent to 38 percent. Plans also were refused in East Brunswick, Jamesburg, Milltown, Monroe, Sayreville, Woodbridge and Old Bridge, and approved in Metuchen, North Brunswick and the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district.

In the Bergen County town of Teaneck, which proposed a 10 percent property-tax increase, voters defeated the budget 4,790- 3,618, director of school-community relations David Bicofsky said in an e-mailed statement. The plan would have raised the local levy by $474 on the average home assessed at $466,100. The unofficial vote count doesn’t include absentee ballots, he said.

Belluscio said preliminary results showed Hunterdon County as the county with the largest percentage of rejections, 82 percent, where only five of 28 budgets on the ballot passed,.

“Things are tough right now,” he said late yesterday. “In times of a bad economy you find that more budgets are defeated. Plus you have the aid cuts and that resulted in districts having to pass some of that cost on to taxpayers.”

Job Cuts

Property-tax bills in the state averaged $7,281 in 2009, up 3.3 percent from the prior year, according to the Department of Community Affairs.

The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union, estimated that as many as 6,000 teachers and 10,000 other school workers would lose their jobs under the proposed budgets.

The $85 million budget in Ridgewood, a Bergen County suburb of New York City, sought the elimination of 72 full-time jobs and a 4 percent tax increase. Voters rejected it 2,601-2,508, according to results posted on the district’s Web site.

In Millburn, where the average home is assessed at almost $1.1 million, voters backed an $82.4 million budget that raised taxes 1.5 percent, or an average of $196 a year. The plan passed 1,864-1,266, according to the Essex County Clerk’s Web site.

Greater Turnout

Millburn schools are slated to lose all of their state funding, or about $3 million, spokeswoman Nancy Dries said.

“There was a heightened interest in this vote because of the governor, and certainly there was concern over whether it would pass,” said Dries. “This was the largest turnout we’ve had in years.”

Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak declined to say how the governor voted on the school budget in his hometown of Mendham Township. The district proposed raising taxes by 3.48 percent, as Christie’s plan cut all of its state aid. The budget passed, 51 percent to 49 percent, according to Morris County’s Web site.

Princeton Regional Schools proposed a 3.9 percent tax increase in its $71.5 million plan, even as officials cut spending by 3.54 percent, according to Lewis Goldstein, assistant superintendent of human resources.

In South Orange-Maplewood schools, where budgets are approved by an appointed panel instead of voters, the Board of School Estimate approved a $108.6 million plan that eliminates 76 aides and calls for a wage freeze. The district lost $5.3 million in aid under the Christie proposal.

“It’s certainly not something we took lightly,” said Mark Gleason, the district’s school board president. “This was a difficult year because of that state aid cut. This budget involved some really tough choices.”

--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Mark Tannenbaum

Posted on: 2010/4/22 4:54
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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JUST VOTE NO!

You have two hours to do so.

Vote NO to another property tax increase. Time for the Dept of Education and School Board to start living within their means.

Cut the waste first.

FG

Posted on: 2010/4/20 23:00
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Hudson county did nothing in terms of freezes for school budget
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New Jersey school districts that have enacted pay freezes, by county:


http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010 ... cast_ballots_on_scho.html

That's pretty amazing considering every other county at least have some district that step up.

[img align=bottom]http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/-0371d9182d4f5198_large.jpg[/img]

Posted on: 2010/4/20 19:33
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Quote:

Xerxes wrote:
So the City Clerk does not know whether the schools cost $100,000,000 or $600,000,000. The difference didn't catch her eye.


First of all, it's the COUNTY Clerk who handles the ballot.

Second, she only prints what the boobs at the Jersey City BOE give her. The JCBOE reviewed the language and didn't catch the error. The JCBOE is filled with incompetent administrators making 6-figure salaries. If you want to fire people start there.

Posted on: 2010/4/16 19:21
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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So the City Clerk does not know whether the schools cost $100,000,000 or $600,000,000. The difference didn't catch her eye.

Short answer:

Fire Her! She should clearly not be trusted with money, elections, or a moving vehicle. She is paid upwards of $100,000.00 and obviously has the attention span of a cinderblock. The City Clerk has one main function and when she cannot achieve that function to the nearest $half-billion words fail. Imagine sitting around all year waiting for tax numbers and then they are presented...and she is not up to reading them correctly to the nearest half billion.

An aside: Since when does the public get to vote on school taxes anyway. Only vote is for a bunch of political wanna-be's to do nothing. If the ballot said 6 BILLION to educate the cretins leaving our high schools or 6 TRILLION, there is no actual effect.

So the added cost of printing new ballots is to try to show this dimwitted, overpaid moron is not quite a moron? (The cost of printing new ballots should come from the City Clerks PENSION!)

Posted on: 2010/4/16 18:39
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Quote:

90013th wrote:
Oops, forgot (again) to answer the original question.


Actually 90013th, all of your responses have been really informative, thanks so much! I am a relative newcomer to JC, and this makes me feel like I can walk into the voting booth next Tuesday pretty well educated on the issues.

Posted on: 2010/4/16 18:05
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JCBOE 2010 Election - Error on Sample Ballot
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Here's a recent example why competent people are needed on the board. The simple mistake on the sample ballots indicates a careless & irresponsible use of our public money by the JC Board of Education.

We need get the incumbents out -- it's a step to change the course of this city for a much-better future. And we need to teach elected officials a lesson on accountability.

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/jerse ... 71399205306430.xml&coll=3

Error on Jersey City school budget question forces Hudson County to reprint sample and vote-by-mail ballots in advance of Tuesday's school board election
Friday, April 16, 2010
By MELISSA HAYES
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Hudson County officials were forced to reprint sample and vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday's Jersey City school board election after catching a major typographical goof.

Budget questions are only supposed to ask voters whether they support the portion of the budget to be raised through taxation, which in this case is $102 million, an increase of $10 million over last year.

But the ballot was printed asking voters to decide whether they support spending $618 million, the total budget.

"When the school board certified the public question to us they misstated the number for the budget amount," said Hudson County Clerk Barbara Netchert.

She said her office sent out over 700 vote-by-mail ballots and was told the county Board of Elections already received about 350 of those ballots, which will have to be recast.

Netchert said Wednesday that new sample and vote-by-mail ballots were printed and were being sent out immediately. She said voters could get them as early as yesterday.

School district spokeswoman Paula Christen confirmed that the error was made by the district and that the district would have to reimburse the county for the cost of reprinting and mailing the ballots.

Netchert said she didn't know those costs yet.

Former Jersey City mayor and Board of Education member Gerry McCann - who is up for re-election to the board on Tuesday - went before Superior Court Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli yesterday asking for the election to be rescheduled because of the ballot issue.

Gallipoli dismissed McCann's request.

McCann, one of 16 candidates running for three seats on Tuesday, argued in court that military members serving oversees would not have a chance to get the new ballots and return them before Tuesday's school election.

"What I was trying to do was get them to recognize that some of the ballots may come in late and they shouldn't discount them," he said.

McCann said although he was unsuccessful in having the election postponed, he at least has on the record that military vote-by-mail ballots could be returned late.

"Now if in fact they come in late we can argue that those votes be counted," he said.

Posted on: 2010/4/16 11:17
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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First, two links I referenced in trying to understand this all:

Jersey City's 2010-2011 budget:
http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/files/boe20102011budget.pdf

A letter from the DOE to mayors detailing what will happen if towns reject the school budgets (explains the adequacy budget and tax levies):
http://www.njslom.org/letters/ml040910-school-budgets.html

Ok, so if you look at the budget, you'll see that overall JC cut over $35 million from their budget. Some areas were cut drastically, one or two went up, and some were cut, but barely (I'm looking at you General Administration!). At this point, the district says “we’ve cut all we can, and still feel we need to spend $618,836,174 to provide a “through and efficient education” for the kids of JC. The state says, we’ll give you $457,008,980 (reference budget categories “REVENUE FROM STATE SOURCES”). We’re still $161,827,194 short of our goal. We get $31,620,926 from the federal government (reference budget categories “REVENUE FROM FEDERAL SOURCES”). We’re still $130,206,268 short of our goal. We get $27,893,014 from other sources (reference budget categories and line items: BUDGETED FUND BALANCE-OPERATING BUDGET, TUITION, UNRESTRICTED MISCELLANEOUS REVENUES). We’re still short $102,313,254 to pay for our budget. We can’t find anywhere else to get more money from. We have to raise that amount in taxes, then. That amount is WAY over the 4% cap, so we ask the state to either give us more state aid, or increase the amount we’re allowed to increase the tax levy because we need that money to fulfill NCLB requirements and/or NJQSAC (a state monitoring program that audits districts and tells them what they need to fix). The state reviews our budget to see if we can cut more. (Remember, some things can’t be cut…namely negotiated salaries and benefits that are in the middle of a contract, and programs/staff/services mandated by state or federal law). In JC’s case, the state said, no, you really can’t cut much more, and per our adequacy formula, JC SHOULD be paying $208,930,150 as its “fair share” of schooling, so you we are not giving you more aid. Instead, raise taxes to cover the $102, 313, 254 because it is still less than we think you should be contributing.”

JC cut over $35 million dollars from its budget from last year to this year. If the budget is defeated, it will go before the city council who can either say “No, this budget is fine” and adopt it anyway, or say “you need to cut XXX dollars from this budget”. If they choose to suggest cuts, they can recommend places to cut (ie, administration), but the district does not have to take their recommendations. Quite honestly, do you think the administrators making the decisions to cut will cut their own? No, they will cut other places. As I said before, some things simply cannot be cut. The cost of benefits and salaries can be negotiated at the end of each contract, but if a contract is in place (and only the teachers are working without a contract, not clerical, school, administration, custodial, etc;) it really cannot be cut. Other mandates (such as class sizes, paraprofessionals for certain special education kids, certain curriculum components) cannot be cut either because of NCLB, NJQSAC or NJDOE requirements. So, the cuts happen in “extra”, non mandated areas like extra curricular activities, summer school, etc;. Look at the numbers in the budget document. They really can’t cut much more there…your taxes are not going down if you vote no for the budget because there are not many more places to make cuts. Additionally, because JC is not paying its “fair share”, the state can reduce our state aid at any time and require us to make up the difference through property taxes. We actually are one of the lucky districts in that we didn’t lose too high of a percentage when Christie cut state aid.

So to sum up, the state sets the requirements for a “thorough and efficient” education that we must provide. The state decides how much we should be paying in taxes to provide that education. Since we are paying less than the state says we should be paying, the state says “increase the tax levy to make up the difference…you’re not paying enough anyway.” If you don’t want to increase taxes, then cut more, but don’t cut any required programs.

Hope this helps. I am a little biased, but I’m also jaded. I believe there is waste in the system, but voting no on the budget is not the way to fix it. All that will happen is more programs that students want/enjoy/need to supplement their education will be cut. A better way to stop the waste is to elect people to the BOE who are looking for all ways, big (cut administration) and small (go green) to save money. Also, start showing up for BOE meetings and asking questions about agenda items. Ask for clarification if you don't understand. Voting no, or voting for BOE candidates that claim that the teacher contract is the reason the budget is so high will NOT lower your taxes.

Posted on: 2010/4/16 2:42
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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I agree with bjay - something does not add up. Why would city council have to work on the budget if JC was not responsible for raising these extra funds through taxes.

Does the wage freeze kickback affect this budget?

http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page ... christies_teacher_sa.html

Also, in this clip that aired the other day (around 6:15), Christie at one point suggests reducing state funding dollar for dollar for cities that push property taxes increases by more than the 4% "limit". And the proposed tax hike is what, 13%?













Posted on: 2010/4/15 21:50
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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The information at 90013th's link is helpful but doesn't yet answer these questions:

1. If the $102 million is mandated by the state, why is it even on the ballot?
2. And then what happens if the voters say no?

There is more budget info for JC on the NJ state dept. of education website here and here, but I wasn't able to reconcile the state aid numbers with the numbers on the ballot.

Then I tried the Jersey City Board of Ed website and eventually found numbers that correspond to a $618 million budget with $102 million to be raised by tax. The budget info is buried deep on the website. Navigate to Administration, then Public Board Documents, then Meetings, then 3/18/2010 Regular Meeting, then to Item 10 (Finance), then to Item 10.22. (Sorry, can't link directly there.)

But it still doesn't answer these questions. If mandatory, why do we vote on it? How do the numbers correspond to what is on the state aid website? And what happens if we vote no?

Posted on: 2010/4/15 19:45
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Oops, forgot (again) to answer the original question.

You are voting to approve the entire $600 some odd million dollar budget, which will result in a XX% tax increase (don't have those exact numbers in front of me). If the budget is voted down, the budget goes to the City Council who will make some more cuts to bring the total dollar amount of the budget down, but Jersey City will STILL be responsible for it's fair share of the adequacy cost.

To simplify it....pretend the state said it costs $500 to educate all students in Jersey City, and taxes must cover $200 of that. Current tax rates cover $100. The total school budget is $700. If the budget is voted down, the City Council will cut it down. Pretend that they cut it to $600. We are still responsible for that $200 the state said we have to pay, and since our current rates only cover $100, taxes are going even though the budget was cut. Quite honestly, voting no to the budget will not reduce your taxes, but will reduce the total monies available to the school district, which may result in cutting more staff and/or programs.

Posted on: 2010/4/15 19:41
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Forgot to add that that the $486,315,450 amount is for the EDUCATION of the students only...not security, clerical, facilities, transportation, etc. It only covers those things that directly result in educating children (curriculum supplies, teaching staff, general supplies, etc)

Posted on: 2010/4/15 19:35
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Basically, the state determines

a) how much it takes to educate all the children in JC (at risk, sp. ed. and ESL "cost" more to educate.) For 2009-2010, it was estimated, by the state, that it would cost $486,315,450 to educate all the children in the district.

b) the dollar amount of that cost that JC taxes must cover. For 2009-2010, the state determined that JC should pay $208,930,150.

If the current tax levy does not cover that $208,930,150, the taxes MUST be raised until that amount is covered through taxes, no matter what the total district budget is. The balance of $486,315,450 minus $208,930,150. is USUALLY the state aid we receive to help us cover the cost of educating the children. Even if the budget was exactly $486,315,450, JC would still have to pay the $208,930,150. This dollar amount is determined through a complicated, weighted formula you can see here:

http://www.state.nj.us/education/sff/profiles/0910/leg/31.PDF

Jersey City's info is on page 5 & 6

So the end result is, if the money collected by Jersey City does not meet the state determined "fair share" (and I have no idea what that is for 2010-2011), Jersey City MUST raise taxes until they meet that amount.

Posted on: 2010/4/15 19:33
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Quote:

ExUWSguy wrote:
Great... and the last thing we needed was another reason to doubt the competency of City and school officials.

I just received my sample ballot, and was floored by the $600 million figure! I am relieved to hear that is a "typo", but 90013th's post confused me - can someone explain what we are voting on and what could the outcome/downside be if we vote down the $100 million portion of the school budget.


Go to the link that 90013th provided for full explanation:

http://www.njsba.org/sb_notes/20080124/faq.html

Posted on: 2010/4/15 18:33
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Great... and the last thing we needed was another reason to doubt the competency of City and school officials.

I just received my sample ballot, and was floored by the $600 million figure! I am relieved to hear that is a "typo", but 90013th's post confused me - can someone explain what we are voting on and what could the outcome/downside be if we vote down the $100 million portion of the school budget.

Posted on: 2010/4/15 18:24
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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One thing that has not been made clear is that the increased tax levy is not a Jersey City decision, but a MANDATED New Jersey decision. There is a new school funding formula, called the adequacy formula, in place. The adequacy formula assigns a dollar amount to educating children in YOUR district. It is a complex formula that weights special education, "at risk" (which includes poor children) and English Language Learners higher than "general" students. Once the state determines how much it costs to educate a student in YOUR district, it also determines what percentage of that cost YOUR town is responsible for....called your "Fair Share". If your taxes do not cover the "fair share", the formula mandates that your town raise taxes to meet the fair share level. Believe it or not, Jersey City was not paying it's "fair share" of educating Jersey City's students, so even though the overall budget was cut, the percecent of tax money that JC must contribute has to go up (according to the state). If you want more information on the adequacy formula, this site gives a pretty good explanation:
http://www.njsba.org/sb_notes/20080124/faq.html

Posted on: 2010/4/15 15:37
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Re: Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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McCann the felon will have to do his phony absentee ballots over again. He'll be running to the nursing homes. BEWARE !

Posted on: 2010/4/15 13:33
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Ballot Question April 20, 2010: Should JC taxpayers pay $102 Million to the schools?
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Jersey City residents getting new school ballots
By Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal
April 14, 2010, 7:54PM

Richard J. McCormack/For The Jersey Journal

Due to an error on the school election ballots, new vote-by-mail and sample ballots are being sent out to Jersey City residents today.

Hudson County Clerk Barbara Netchert said in its certification to her, the school board listed $618 million as the amount of money to be raised through school taxes. However, $618 million is the amount of the total budget. Only $102 million of that is to be raised through taxpayers.

Netchert said she was in court this morning to get approval and new ballots were printed and mailed out today.

She said about 700 people requested vote-by-mail ballots, of which about 350 were returned. Those voters will receive new ballots and must submit their votes again. Residents will also receive new sample ballots.

She said voting machines were set to go out today in anticipation of the April 20 school election, so those ballots were able to be corrected before the machines are delivered.

Netchert said she could not yet quantify the cost of printing new ballots, but said the district would be responsible for reimbursing the county.

Paula Christen, a spokeswoman for the district, confirmed that an error was made and that the district would have to cover the cost of printing new ballots.

Posted on: 2010/4/15 8:44
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