Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Field Fails!

Today was a beautiful, relatively warm day to be out at the polls.  Congratulations to reelected board members Maria Barth and Al Howland and to newly elected member Dan Klein. Sorry to the supporters of the field and congratulations to the opponents.  The Benefits Stabilization Fund I didn't like passed. In Lee, the library failed badly (35%, needed 60%) -- sorry supporters. Congratulations to school board member Dr. Kenny Rotner who was elected to the Durham Town Council today. Thanks to everyone who voted and who worked hard for their various issues.

Here are the election results.  Thanks to David Taylor and Todd Selig for the raw vote counts.  (Links: raw Lee results, raw Durham and Oyster River results, raw Madbury results.)

2,614 Oyster River school district ballots were cast.  This is a pretty large turnout, almost certainly due to the field question (2,529 votes cast).  In recent years it is only surpassed by the 3,000 ballots cast in 2012, in reaction to the tweet and Right-to-Know scandals.

Article 1: Moderator

        Richard Laughton 2026 votes 100% ELECTED

Article 2: School Board Members, Town Seats

        Lee             Maria Barth   1836 100%    ELECTED
        Durham      Al Howland   1903 100%    ELECTED
        Madbury    Dan Klein       1741 100%    ELECTED

Article 3: $2M Field, $1.7M Bond (60% needed to pass) FAILED

        YES 1382   54.6%
        NO   1147   45.4%

That was pretty close.  If 136 NOs switched to YES the field would have passed.  Alternatively if 226 NOs had stayed home or 339 more YESes had shown up, the field would have passed.  I've seen some other reports of these numbers and none of them have been correct.

Article 4: Bus Drivers Contract ($69K raise) PASSED

        YES  1808   71.9%
        NO      705   28.1%

Article 5: ORPaSS Contract (Paras and Support Staff, $136K raise) PASSED

        YES   1684   67.8%
        NO       800   32.2%

Article 6: Benefit Stabilization Fund ($200K) PASSED

        YES   1462   60.0%
        NO       975   40.0%

Article 7: Main Budget ($40.8M) PASSED

         YES   1484   60.8%
         NO       955   39.1%

Adding it all up, I get a back of the envelope total appropriation of a record 40.759+.2+.136+.069 = $41.164 million.  It would have been $43.2M had the field passed.   Last year's figure is .320+39.326=$39.646M, so we have an increase of 41.164/39.646 = 3.8%.  That's not really that close to the nominal 3% cap articulated in this year's budget goal. The board has however met their goal, because they exempt the warrant articles they recommend, so their calculation is more like 40.759/39.646 = 2.8%.   Many of the appropriations exempted from the numerator one year, where they would have made the calculated increases larger, are counted in the denominator the next year, where they makes the calculated increase smaller.  I don't like it one bit.  I think the time is ripe for a serious discussion about budget goals.

By the way, tuition revenue is expected up a bit ($200K if I recall, .5%) so the amount we get from the state, fed, & local grants and taxes needs to go up around 3.3%.   In the case where the state and federal sources don't rise as fast as 3.3%, we'd have to make it up by our local property tax rising more than 3.3%.  In an extreme case (or the marginal case) if the state+fed portion didn't increase at all, all the increase would have to come from the 2/3rds of the revenue that is local property tax, so local property tax would have to increase by 3.3/(2/3)=  5%.  This year, according to the MS-26 form the district filed, it appears that local school property tax is increasing by 3.3% so those other revenue sources must be keeping up.


Now that people are largely done reading this post, I can leave a math note for myself, about supermajority votes like article 3.

p is the fraction of YES votes need to win (= .6 here)
y is the number of YES votes cast
n is the number of NO votes cast
a is the number of additional votes to change the outcome
Sy is the YES switch -- 1 if we add the a additional votes to YES, else 0
Sn is the NO switch -- 1 if we subtract the a additional votes from NO, else 0

Then   a >=  [   p n - (1-p) y ]  / [ p Sn + (1-p) Sy ]

Defining v = p n - (1-p) y, we get

v votes to switch (Sy  = 1, Sn = 1)
/ p fewer NO votes (Sy  = 0, Sn = 1)
v / (1 - p) additional YES votes (Sy  = 1, Sn = 0)

Remember to round up at the end (but don't round v before the divisions).

The v definition gives a good way to think about it : NO votes are worth p, YES votes, 1-p.  If we normalize YES votes have a worth Wy = 1, NO votes are worth Wn = p / (1-p).  Wn indicates just how much power the supermajority requirement gives to the minority.  For p = .5 (a simple majority), Wn = 1, no advantage to the majority.   For p = .6, Wn = .6/.4 = 1.5, so NO votes are worth 50% more than YES votes, a pretty powerful advantage to the minority.  For p = 2/3 (e.g. a veto override), Wn = (2/3) / (1/3) = 2, so NO votes are worth twice YES votes, an extreme advantage to the minority.  Solving gives  p = W/ ( Wn + 1 ).

One last note.  For a simple majority (p = .5), to win y / (y + n) > .5, but for supermajority (p > .5), the inequality is relaxed so y / (y + n) >= p wins.

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