MCS bus purchase wins by three votes

By Joe Moskowitz
By a scant three-vote margin, residents of the Margaretville Central School District approved the purchase of a new school bus last week Tuesday.
Usually, a school bus vote passes easily but this time the vote was shrouded in controversy.
One person, asking not to be identified, who voted against the purchase told the News that a new bus wasn’t needed because the one it was replacing had only 86,000 miles on it. Others felt that the cost, at $113,000, is excessive for a district that is attempting to close a budget gap of more than $170,000 before sending a new budget to the voters in May.
When the votes were counted, the machine tally was a tie at 45-45. But the three absentee votes were in favor, and the purchase of the new, 72-passenger bus was approved.
MCS Superintendent Tony Albanese said the problem with the old bus is rust. He said road salt gets embedded and is difficult to remove. Albanese said the State Department of Transportation is very strict about forcing districts to retire buses when there is a rust issue.
The timing of the vote did not help. The district is dealing with financial issues, but Albanese said the bus replacement schedule was thrown off for two years by Hurricane Irene. He added that MCS pays for all buses up front from a special bus fund. The purchase will not affect taxes or the upcoming budget. It gave the district permission to spend money already in the bus fund.