Springs School Board Adopts $25.4 Million Budget

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The Springs School Board voted unanimously to adopt a $24.4 million 2013-14 budget that draws $700,000 from the district’s reserves to both keep under a New York State 2-percent tax levy and help cushion next year’s tax rate.

The School Board ironed out the details in its budget final work session on Monday evening, at which administrators unveiled a plan that reduced spending by about $123,000 from the $25.5 million proposed at an earlier work session. The district arrived at the lower number after reevaluating estimates, salaries and stipends, said District Treasurer Tom Primiano during a budget presentation.

Also, the newer plan draws less money from the district’s fund balance compared to one the administration proposed at an earlier meeting. The prior proposal included drawing $934,000 from the district’s reserves. The district is projected to end this school year with about $5.6 million in total fund balance, according to the budget presentation. The lower amount of fund balance withdrawal is in part to ease budgeting in the 2014-15 budget cycle, when, if all programming stays the same as it is now, the district is tentatively projecting a gap of $653,457 in order to stay under the tax cap. The projected gap, which is a “very tentative” guess, is due to projected increases in enrollment and pension costs, Mr. Primiano said.

Overall, the district is proposing a $25.4 million budget next year, up from this year’s spending plan by $782,380, or 3.18 percent. The tax levy would rise by 1.3 percent to about $23 million. The tax rate is expected to climb by 3.37 percent to $91.97 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The $24.4 million 2013-14 budget, while adopted by the School Board, must be ratified by district voters on May 21.

Other major budget increases include: $642,000 for employee benefits; $297,000 in capital costs to pay for various improvements and projects, including a vestibule and ramp at the school’s entrance; $297,000 for payroll, and a $354,000 reduction in East Hampton High School tuition this year. The district is also proposing to add a sixth bus route next year to “meet the need for more seats and improve routing efficiency,” according to the budget presentation.

Springs School Principal Eric Casale spoke highly of next year’s budget.

“Dealing with the financial constraints we have, I believe that we’re still offering our students probably one of the most rigorous, well-rounded educational programs on the East End,” Mr. Casale said. The audience applauded.

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