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Tuckahoe Board of Education Chief: Weak Turnout Not So Bad

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – Tuesday's school election was called "disappointing" by Tuckahoe Board of Education Deputy President Anthony Buonocore on Tuesday night when the results were hand-delivered at the board's meeting in the high school library.

A total of 565 voters turned out on a mostly wet day to cast their votes for and against the 2012-2013 school budget. The budget passed, 304-261, or 43 votes, a 7.6 percent margin. The figures are preliminary, with 15 affidavit ballots still outstanding.

"It's the lowest turnout I can remember in my 14 years here," Buoncore said. "Usually we get 13 or 14 percent, but this can't be more than 5 or 6 percent."

But board President Julio Urbina said Wednesday that the turnout has been low the past three years, at least, and the budget passage has been close.

"I was feeling kind of crummy last night," he said Wednesday afternoon, "but then I ran the numbers" for the past three years. What he found, he said, is that Tuckahoe "has a history of low voter turnout."

Urbina said that in the 2010-2011 election, 899 voters went to the polls and approved the budget by 45 votes, or 5 percent. And, a year ago, 676 people voted on the budget – 377 in favor and 299 against, a difference of 78 votes or 11.5 percent.

"(Tuesday) night's turnout was shockingly low," Urbina said, "but when I look at the margins for those other years I don't feel as crummy."

Urbina said he could not come up with a hard answer for why more people did not turn out to decide an issue that has an impact on their taxes. "Our community is different from others," he said, noting a strong turnout in Bronxville and more than 2,000 votes cast in Eastchester. "We have a higher percentage of voters who don't have children, who are older. Even when the budget passes, it's not by an overwhelming margin."

He said the fact that the state enacted a 2 percent tax levy cap this year may have satisfied some people who might have otherwise voted against the budget, and it might have left others resigned to the feeling that the schools got about all they could get under the cap.

"It's all purely speculation," he said, "but I have to wonder if the turnout had something to do with the tax cap on top of the community's relative apathy."

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