Board of Ed finalizes $11.3 million budget

JULIE LANE PHOTO School district Business Official Tim Laube outlined final budget changes April 19 prior to Board of Education members unanimously approving the spending plan they will submit to voters next month.

JULIE LANE PHOTO School district Business Official Tim Laube outlined final budget changes April 19 prior to Board of Education members unanimously approving the spending plan they will submit to voters next month.

After months of planning, the Board of Education on April 19 unanimously adopted a proposed $11.3 million budget, up from the $10.96 spending plan for the current school year that ends June 30.

The new proposal will not pierce the state-mandated tax levy cap.

Voters get the final word on the proposal when they vote in the school gymnasium between noon and 9 p.m. May 16.

There were minor changes in numbers, primarily based on slightly more money coming from New York State than had been anticipated. But of the $34,157 the state is offering, only $18,000 is being added to anticipated revenues because some of the money represents reimbursements tied to specific spending — spending the district doesn’t plan to do.

District Business Official Tim Laube explained that point at the April 19 meeting by saying if the state gives you aid for a domed stadium but you don’t have such a structure, the money can’t be put to work for other spending.

In past years, the district has also benefitted from other money secured by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and there’s always the possibility such revenues could be forthcoming. If Shelter Island receives more money, it can be added to the fund balance, which the district has had to deplete in recent years in order to avoid piercing the tax cap. Last year, for the first time since the state imposed a cap on the tax levy, it was necessary to go above it.

The result was a squeaker at the polls with budget surviving by only two votes.

Based on spending and anticipated revenues, of the $11.3 million budget proposal, $10.13 million will have to be raised from taxes.

Annual property reassessment is underway and could change the numbers slightly, but Mr. Laube said he anticipates that owners of property valued at $500,000, for example, would pay an additional $19.51 in taxes to support the 2017-18 budget. Those with properties assessed at $850,000 would see an additional $33.17 on their tax bills and those with properties assessed at $1 million would be paying an additional $39.02.

A proposition on the ballot to extend off-Island busing to students who want to go to Our Lady of the Hamptons in Southampton would cost the district approximately $68,000 for the next year. That’s because the school is beyond the 15-mile radius the state sets for busing. Parents of students who attend classes at the Ross or Hayground schools in the Hamptons must submit requests to the Board of Education each year by a specific cutoff date, but as long as they meet that date, the district must provide transportation.

Our Lady of the Hamptons is 16.2 miles away, necessitating a referendum that leaves it to the voters to decide whether to accommodate the request. Because class hours differ, the bus that carries the Ross and Hayground students can’t accommodate the parochial school students, necessitating a separate vehicle and ferry fares.

If voters approve the proposition, Mr. Laube said it would cost the district about $350,000 over the course of the next five years.

The third proposition on the ballot in May will be to elect three Board of Education members. There are three incumbents seeking seats — Alfred Brigham Sr., Linda Eklund and Elizabeth Melichar. Tracy McCarthy has also filed a petition to run for the board to unseat one of the incumbents.

All seats are at large with the top three vote-getters winning three-year terms.

Although the budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year can’t be changed, anyone with questions about it can attend a formal budget hearing on May 8 at 6 p.m. in the board conference room. Mr. Laube is also willing to answer questions by telephone at (631) 749-0302 extension 136 or by email at [email protected]

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