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Batavia school voters to consider land sale, budget, board elections

BATAVIA – Voters in the Batavia School District may solve a longstanding problem for the School Board in the May 20 election: getting rid of a large piece of property that has been vacant for years.

A 13-acre landscaped stretch of land in the city’s northeast residential area was once pegged as the site for an elementary school to serve a fast-growing part of the city. That plan was abandoned and years later it was decided to convert the acreage into an athletic field. That idea didn’t sell to a dozen neighbors who front the property.

Now the board has a $150,000 offer from a Batavia resident who wants to develop housing on the site. The voters must approve a sale for land assessed at $100,000.

The money would go into the 2014-2015 budget, a $42.9 million spending plan that would raise the real property taxes about 2 percent. That is also subject to voter approval.

The ballot will list candidates for three School Board seats with the terms of Wayne Gunther, Amy Barone and Leslie Johnson ending.

Prospective candidates have until next week to get their names on the ballot. Board members serve three-year terms.

A vote that won’t count but may help determine future action is an Alternative Veterans Tax exemption. A sliding scale for combat veterans and disabled veterans would still be subject to board approval prior to March 1 of any year. If the straw vote is approved, the exemption would be on any residence assessed at $80,000 or more and would increase the property levies of non-veterans by a small amount.

Residents also will vote on continuing a non-voting student to attend board meetings.

District voters who reside north of Main Street (Route 5) in the city, and towns of Batavia and Stafford that comprise the district, will be voting now in the former Robert Morris Elementary School instead of John Kennedy.

The two are at opposite ends of the city but Robert Morris offers more available space.