School Budget Voter’s Guide

School Vote
School budget votes are today…

School Budget votes will be held across the East End today, and it’s looking like an interesting year, as the state “2 percent” tax cap, which is actually tied both to consumer price index and to individual factors within school districts and is often less than 2 percent, has caused many local districts to attempt to pierce their caps.

Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll see on the ballots in local school districts:

Riverhead Central School District

Riverhead has proposed a $130,669,295 budget for 2016-17, up 3.78 percent over last year, but is proposing a $93,510,956 tax levy — just $2 below the state tax cap.

The district is expecting to receive $26.7 million in state aid next year, up 13.9 percent. They are also appropriating $3.29 million from their reserve funds — a 43 percent increase over last year.

Voters will elect three of six candidates for the school board. Two of the candidates will serve full three-year terms, while the third will complete the term of Lori Hulse, which ends June 30, 2017. Ms. Hulse resigned after winning election as a Riverhead Town Justice to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The candidates are incumbent Chrisptopher Dorr, Greg Fischer, Laurie Downs, Bradford Harnig, Thomas W. Kruger and Amelia Lantz.

Voting will be held at the three elementary schools corresponding to the elementary school where students who live at your address would attend, with the exception of residents whose students would attend Roanoke Avenue School, who will vote at the Riverhead High School at 700 Harrison Avenue instead.

The other polling locations are the Riley Avenue School at 374 Riley Avenue in Calverton, the Aquebogue School at 499 Main Road in Aquebogue and the Phillips Avenue School at 141 Phillips Avenue in Riverside. All polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

East Hampton

East Hampton has proposed a $66,721,301 school budget for 2016-17, up .97 percent from this year. The district is expecting to raise $48,650,614 through property taxes, a .73 percent increase over this year.

The district is expected to receive $13,625,847 from high school tuition for students in Montauk, Springs, Amagansett, Sagaponack and Wainscott, who all attend high school in East Hampton.

If approved, the district estimates taxes would increase by $22.60 for a property owner whose house is valued at $6,000. East Hampton does not assess properties at full value. Obviously.

Four candidates are running for three seats on the East Hampton School Board, including incumbents Wendy Geehreng, J.P. Foster and Rich Wilson and newcomer Alison Anderson.

Voting will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., at East Hampton High School at 2 Long Lane. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Southampton

Southampton School District voters will weigh in on a $67,731,464 budget today, up from $65,103,073 this year. The total tax levy will be $53,676,683, up 2.03 percent, while the total tax rate is expected to decrease by .94 percent.

The district estimates that a homeowner whose house is assessed at $500,000 can expect to see an $11.20 decrease in school taxes next year.

Voters will be asked to select two of the five candidates running for four year terms to succeed board members Nicholas Palumbo and Jake Wilson, who are stepping down. The candidates are Donna Gagliardo, James McKenna, Jacqueline Robinson, Tracey Koszalka and Anastasia Gavalas.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on the use of $7.75 million from the district’s acquisition and facility construction capital reserve fund to buy and renovate property on Hampton Road in Southampton for use as a district office.

The ballot also includes a proposition to allow the school to contract with the Southampton Youth Association to provide recreation programs for the district, at a cost of $400,311, and a proposition to contract for services from the Southampton Historical Museum at a cost of $170,000.

Voting will be held in the Southampton Intermediate School Music Room at 70 Leland Lane in Southampton from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The district’s budget presentation is online here.

Tuckahoe

The Tuckahoe School is proposing a $19,533,000 budget for 2016-17, up 2.3 percent over this year. According to the district budget newsletter, “virtually all of the increase comes from tuition costs,” to send high school students to Southampton.

While the district’s proposed budget includes a 2.48 percent increase in the tax levy, the district is only allowed a .38 percent increase, meaning this budget would pierce the state-imposed tax cap.

According to the district, “ironically, the reason our tax levy limit is so much lower than our neighbors is because we paid off all our debt.”

Budgets that pierce the state tax cap must be approved by 60 percent of the voters.

The district estimates that the average homeowner would pay about $157.54 more in taxes next year if the budget is approved.

Tuckahoe School voters will also have a chance today to weigh in on a 5-year exclusive sending and tuition agreement for high school students to attend Southampotn High School, and on contracts with the Southampton Youth Association and the Parrish Art Museum to provide services for the district.

Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Tuckahoe School library at 468 Magee Street in Southampton. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Bridgehampton

The small Bridgehampton School District is also proposing a tax cap-piercing budget next year, due in large part to skyrocketing health care costs for district employees.

The proposed $13,778,439 budget reflects a 7.49 percent increase over this year, and the tax levy is expected to increase 8.7 percent to $11,960,973.

If approved, the tax rate would increase just 2.84 percent, due to rising assessed valuation throughout Bridgehampton, to $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The district estimates that taxes on the average single family home (valued at $2 million) would increase by $93.93.

Incumbent school board member Jennifer Vinski is running unopposed.

The vote will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Bridgehampton School gymnasium at 2685 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. The district’s full budget presentation is online here.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor is pitching a $38,773,989 budget for 2016-17, up 3.25 percent. The district is proposing a $35,065,000 tax levy, up 2.98 percent, which is within the tax cap for the district, which is 3.2 percent.

Four candidates are seeking two three-year seats on the school board. President Susan Kinsella and vice president Chris Tice are seeking re-election, and they are being challenged by real estate agent Roxanne Briggs and Public Interest Media Group President Susan Lamontagne.

District voters will also be asked to weigh in on whether the Sag Harbor School District should buy the former Stella Maris Regional School building through a bond not to exceed $10,233,500. The Sag Harbor School District hopes to use the building as a pre-Kindergarten and full-time cay care center, freeing up space in the middle school for older students.

The district would spend $3.3 million to buy the Stella Maris building and $6.9 million to renovate it.

The district estimates the purchase would cost taxpayers with a home valued at $1 million $3.90 extra in the first year, $16.50 in the following year and $33.11 in the year after that, but there would be “no net tax levy impact to the average taxpayer” from 2020 to 2040 “due to the overall decrease in the amount of the district’s current outstanding debt.”

The vote will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pierson High School gymnasium at 200 Jermain Avenue. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Mattituck-Cutchogue

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District has proposed a $40,333,921 budget for 2016-17, a decrease in spending of 1.44 percent. The budget carries a $33,631,355 tax levy, up .4985 percent.

The tax rate is expected to increase .13 percent. The district estimates “the average taxpayer will see an annual school tax increase of about $7 to $9 per year.

Despite the lack of fireworks in the district’s budget numbers, Mattituck-Cutchogue claims the only contested school board race on the North Fork this year.

Seven candidates, including incumbent William Gatz, Edward Hassildine, Brian Mealy, MaryLynn Hoeg, Barbara Talbot, George Haase and Tonya Kaiser-Witczak are running for three seats.

The vote will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. in the Mattituck High School gymnasium. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Greenport

Greenport has proposed a $17,930,820 budget for 2016-17, a 5.85 percent increase. The district’s tax levy would also increase by 8.52 percent, due to a plan by the district to reinstate staffing that had been cut over the past several years.

The district’s tax cap is .77 percent, and the budget will need to pass with 60 percent of the vote in order to pierce the cap.

Incumbent school board members Heather Wolf and Christina Volinksi are running unopposed.

The vote will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Greenport School Gym.

Southold

Southold has proposed a $29,008,500 budget for 2016-17, up .48 percent.

The budget carries a $25,604,343 tax levy, a .67 percent increase, which is within the state tax cap. The district estimates that a property assessed at $6,400 would see a $36 annual increase if the budget is approved.

Board member Judi Fouchet is running unopposed.

Voting will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. in the Southold High School gymnasium at 420 Oaklawn Avenue. The district’s budget presentation is online here.

Shelter Island

Shelter Island has proposed a $10,966,854 budget for 2016-17, a decrease of .22 percent, but the budget carries a 5.92 percent increase in the tax levy, which would be $10,000,816 if the budget is approved by voters.

The district estimates the new budget will cost taxpayers $17.24 more per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

The district says in its budget message that “we have reached into our reserves the past three years to keep the tax levy low—one of the lowest in New York State. This year, we have reduced expenditures and again are reaching into reserves. However, we plan to spend less than we did in the current school year.”

The district is also planning to instate a full-day pre-Kindergarten program next year.

Voting will take place from noon until 9 p.m. in the Shelter Island School gymnasium. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Hampton Bays

The Hampton Bays School District has proposed a $49,951,477 budget for 2016-17, up 1.33 percent. The tax levy increase is 1.02 percent, within the state tax cap.

Incumbent school board president and vice president Richard Joslin and Kevin Springer are running for reelection unopposed.

Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Hampton Bays Middle School gymnasium, 70 Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. The district’s budget brochure is online here.

Westhampton Beach

Westhampton Beach is proposing a $55,047,141 budget for 2016-17, up .15 percent over this year. The tax levy will be $28,333,386, up .70 percent over this year.

The district estimates that the owner of a house valued at $700,000 will pay $4,461.94 in school taxes next year — up $31.15.

Incumbent board member George R. Kast, Jr. is running unopposed.

Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the LGI room at Westhampton Beach High School at 49 Lilac Road in Westhampton Beach.The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Amagansett

The Amagansett School District’s proposed $10,473,428 budget reflects a .34 percent increase over last year, but carries a 3.74 percent increase in the tax levy, piercing the state tax cap, which for Amagansett would have been just .16 percent.

The school says in its budget statement that “this year tuition costs were higher than originaly anticipated and therefore the district has less fund balance to offset the tax levy.”

The district points out that homeowners with property assessed at $6,000 will see an increase of less than $40 per year if the budget is approved by the supermajority of 60 percent of voters.

Hank Muchnic and Kristen Vitale Peterson are running unopposed for two three-year seats on the school board.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on the Amagansett Library’s $995,223 budget.

The vote will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Amagansett School Gym at 320 Main Street in Amagansett. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Springs

The Springs School has proposed a $27,630,067 budget for 2016-17, up .97 percent from the current year. The tax levy is anticipated to be $24,485,698, up just .13 percent and within the tax cap.

The terms of school board members Jeffrey Miller and Adam Wilson are expiring. Mr. Wilson is running for re-election, and David Conlon and Amy Rivera have thrown their hats in the ring.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on the expenditure of $120,971 over three years to buy a new school bus.

The vote will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. in the Springs School Library at 48 School Street. The district’s budget newsletter is online here.

Montauk

Montauk has proposed an $18,987,163 million budget for 2016-17, down .08 percent from this year.  The tax levy of $16,952,502 is also decreasing by just less than 1 percent.

The school’s tax rate is expected to go down $5.39 to $544.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The decrease is due to an expected decrease in tuition next year as fewer students go to East Hampton High School and other schools, though the numbers of those students are expected to increase the following year.

School Board Vice President Patti Leber is running for re-election, and two candidates — Thomas Flight and Cynthia Ibrahim — have stepped in to run for a second seat after board member Jason Biando resigned.

The vote will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. at the school at 50 South Dorset Drive in Montauk.

Oysterponds

Oysterponds is proposing a $5,680,052 budget for 2016-17, which carries a 1.37 percent tax levy increase.

School Board President Dorothy-Dean Thomas and board members Krista de Kerillis, and Thomas Stevenson are running unopposed.

Voting will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. at the school at 23405 Main Road in Orient. The district’s full budget documentation is online here.

East Quogue

East Quogue has proposed a $23,861,579 budget for 2016-17, a 3.49 percent increase, and its budget pierces the district’s .64 percent tax levy cap.

East Quogue says in their budget statement that “we have spent down our fund balance and reserves over the last six to seven cycles to keep tax rate lower. We are designated as susceptible to fiscal stress for this reason.”

The district points out that, due to CPF Payment in Lieu of Taxes revenue, the cost to the average taxpayer will likely decrease by $129 compared with the 2014-15 school year.

Incumbent board member Dianna Gobler is looking to keep her seat, while board member Carrie Bender will not seek reelection. Newcomers Jessica Stalters and former Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney are both looking for a seat on the board.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the East Quogue Elementary School gym at 6 Central Avenue in East Quogue. The district’s budget presentation is online here.

New Suffolk

The tiny New Suffolk school district proposes a $1,314,783 budget for 2016-17, with a tax levy increase of 1.1 percent.

Incumbent school board member Joe Polashock is running unopposed.

Voting will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. at the school at 1295 4th Street in New Suffolk.

Sagaponack

The also-tiny Sagaponack school district will hold its budget vote and board election from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. tonight. Sagaponack is proposing a $1,776,756 budget — a .2 percent increase, which carries a $1,713,506 tax levy, a .1 percent decrease. The district plans to spend $37,000 this coming year for playground improvements.

Cathy Hatgistavrou is running unopposed for the school board.

The school is located at 400 Sagg Main Road. But if you are registered to vote in Sagaponack, you already know that.

Wainscott

The also-also tiny Wainscott school district is proposing a $3,036,916 budget for 2016-17, which carries a tax levy decrease of 1.16 percent.

School board member William Babinski is running unopposed.

Wainscott voters will also weigh in on tuition contracts with the Sag Harbor Elementary School and Pierson Middle/High School in Sag Harbor, which would allow Wainscott students the choice of whether to attend Sag Harbor or East Hampton schools in higher grades.

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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