Hampton Bays Adopts $47.1 Million Budget, Stays Below Tax Cap

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The Hampton Bays Board of Education unanimously adopted a $47.1 million budget on Tuesday night, a spending plan that maintains all programs and positions and falls just below the 2-percent tax levy cap.

The proposed budget increases overall spending by 2.7 percent over the current year’s $45.9 million budget, and bumps up the tax levy by 2.7 percent to $42.5 million. Because of various exemptions, that leaves the rate just a fraction of a percentage point under the cap.

Business Administrator Larry Luce projected a tax rate of about $12.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 33 cents, or 2.7 percent, from the current rate, though he said that number is likely to change. Under that estimate, a taxpayer with a home valued at $500,000 would pay approximately $6,250 next year in school property taxes, an increase of about $165.

Mr. Luce said the district began with a budget gap of about $900,000, but was able to dwindle that down to zero without using reserve funds by addressing efficiencies, such as altering bus routes, adjusting special education programs and labor contracts, among other changes. The state also offered $4.2 million in state aid, a 4.6 percent increase from the current year.

When they head to the polls to vote on the proposed budget on May 21, taxpayers will also be asked to approve a proposition to eliminate a bus route that picks up kindergarten students who live within a mile of the elementary school. Mr. Luce estimated that the change will save about $60,000.

Five district teachers—Madeline Dannewitz, Ralph Hubbard, Rosemarie King, Mary Ann Sharpe and Valentine Stype—have accepted a retirement incentive that should save the district at least $61,000, according to Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen. He said those teachers will be replaced with new hires.

“Closing the gap of $900,000 was the hardest thing I think Larry and I have done in our careers,” Mr. Clemensen said, adding that he was thrilled they were able to do it without cutting jobs or programs.

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