Budget fails; Zaleski, Ciak, Trapp elected

Sayreville voters say no to tax hike, courtesy busing


Staff Writer

Leonard Zaleski Leonard Zaleski SAYREVILLE – Voters defeated the proposed school budget Tuesday, but re-elected the lone incumbent along with three newcomers.

Voters also rejected a second ballot question that would have maintained the district’s courtesy busing program. The busing for students in grades 6-12 would have cost approximately $300,000, or approximately $19 on the average property tax bill. The question was rejected 2,019 to 1,350.

The overall $65.8 million budget – defeated by a vote of 2,007 to 1,340 – called for an average tax hike of $242. The budget will now be sent to the Borough Council for review and possible cuts.

Also Tuesday, Board President Kevin Ciak was re-elected while Leonard Zaleski and Jill Trapp both won their first terms. Each of the three terms is for three years. Zaleski garnered the most votes, with 2,184. Trapp was second with 1,936, and Ciak was next with 1,665.

The group edged out Heather Mendoza, with 1,331 votes, and Ronald VanTine, with 790.

Thomas Biesiada, meanwhile, secured a one-year unexpired term, defeating Donna Anonsen by a vote of 1,637 to 1,113.

Jill Trapp Jill Trapp “The people of Sayreville have spoken,” Biesiada said. “I thank everybody that voted for me and everybody that did not vote for me.”

Anonsen said she was disappointed that she did not win the position, adding that she wishes all the new board members well.

Though she is not on the board, Anonsen expressed disappointment in the budget’s defeat.

“I am very disappointed that the budget failed. I hope that the new board will consider what the [Borough] Council has to say, and if they do not agree with the cuts, that they will appeal to the county superintendent,” she said.

Anonsen mentioned the possibility that she will consider another run for the board next year.

“I will still be attending board meetings and I will continue to be active. There is always next year.”

Ciak thanked the residents for their continued support of his candidacy.

“I am very appreciative of Sayreville voters for electing me to a third term, and I am looking forward to another three years on the board,” he said.

Kevin Ciak Kevin Ciak Ciak said he was disappointed that both the budget and courtesy busing question were voted down.

“Based upon the effort put into it, what it came down to was that it was too large of an increase to be done in one chunk,” he said.

Borough Council President Thomas Pollando said he had anticipated the budget’s failure. He told the Suburban that he has already contacted borough Chief Financial Officer Wayne Kronowski and Business Administrator Jeff Bertrand regarding the upcoming review of the school budget.

“We are getting a resolution ready Monday to authorize [Newark-based accounting firm] Samuel Klein to work with the Board of Education to start looking to cut the budget,” he said.

Pollando added that he is concerned with the rejection of courtesy busing. He believes it will force many parents to drive their children to and from school and thus bring an increase in traffic around town, especially in the areas of the schools.

Thomas Biesiada Thomas Biesiada Sayreville provides courtesy busing to students who live between 1.2 and 2 miles of their school. The district is required by state law to bus all students who live beyond 2 miles from their school.

The loss of the courtesy busing, Pollando said, will become an inconvenience for many.

“I think that puts a burden on the parents to make sure that their

children get to school,” he said.

Pollando stressed that he is waiting to see what the Samuel Klein firm will have to say about the school budget.

“It is really important. Taxpayers and residents said that they do not want this budget,” he said. “Now we’ve got to take a look at this.”

Pollando said he believes voters approved the school budget last year because they also came out to support a high school addition proposed on the same ballot.

“The residents realized how overcrowded the school was and how we needed more space and a new modern school for children to get a better education.”