A few weeks ago, the taxpayers of Dutchess County learned of Dutchess BOCES’s plan to present a $30.3 million bond proposition for a capital project. While there were varied opinions on the merits of the proposal, many immediately questioned their use of a single polling place for in excess of 165,000 voters.
Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie), Senator Vinnie Leibell, (R,I,C Brewster) and Assemblyman Marc Molinaro (R,I,C Red Hook) stood up for their constituents and voiced their concerns that far too many taxpayers in Dutchess County would not get the opportunity to vote on a proposition that could have an effect on their property taxes.
Fortunately, Dutchess BOCES responded to the state legislators’ and the public’s concerns and announced their plans to delay the vote and provide multiple polling places.
“The hard working taxpayers of Dutchess County deserve to have a voice in a decision that may ultimately affect their property taxes,” said Senator Saland. “I have consistently fought for taxpayers in my district, sponsoring and voting for legislation designed to help relieve their crushing tax burden. When Dutchess BOCES tried to place a multi-million dollar measure on the ballot, in only one single polling place, it would have resulted in suppressing the votes of countless thousands of taxpayers, precluding their chance to be heard. I thank Senator Leibell, and Assemblymen Miller and Molinaro for joining me in the fight to see that all Dutchess taxpayers will be heard,” Saland continued.
“When taxpayers are footing the bill, they deserve a voice in the decision,” said Senator Leibell. “Only one polling site in a county the size of Dutchess would have disenfranchised too many voters and restricted voter access. I was proud to join my colleagues in successfully having the vote delayed so that this matter could be addressed,” Leibell added.
"The hard working, over taxed residents of this county deserved to have their voices heard. Placing aside the merits of this proposal, BOCES was wrong to deny voters adequate access," said Assemblyman Marc Molinaro. "I appreciate that the BOCES Board of Education listened to the outcry of our constituents. Limiting access and denying broad public participation is not something taxpayers should have to accept, and didn't. Senators Saland and Leibell, and Assemblyman Miller and I will be working to insure that this kind of activity will not occur again."
Senator Saland, Senator Leibell, Assemblyman Molinaro and Assemblyman Miller plan to introduce legislation which will require all BOCES to have an adequate number of polling places for measures which must come before the voters for consideration. The proposal being submitted would allow residents of each component school district to have voter access so they will not need to travel great distances to cast their votes.