In Amagansett, Two Incumbents And A $10.2 Million Budget Proposal

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Voters in Amagansett will weigh in on a $10.2 million budget proposal and cast ballots in two uncontested School Board races on Tuesday. Amagansett School Board President John Hossenlopp and Victoria Handy Smudzinski, each of whom is seeking another three-year term, praised the Amagansett District this week, saying its students go on to do very well in high school and beyond.

Mr. Hossenlopp, who practiced corporate and financial law in London and New York City, started living full-time in Amagansett in the late 1990s and agreed to fill a board vacancy in 2001, at the suggestion of Jack Emptage, a fellow member of the Amagansett Fire Department. Serving on the School Board has turned out to be “a nice, community-centered activity,” said Mr. Hossenlopp, a grandfather whose three adult children live in the New York Metropolitan area. He has been the board’s president since 2002.

One of the Amagansett School’s biggest challenges, Mr. Hossenlopp said, is an “increasing administrative burden” set by the state, which has made it necessary to add staff. Meeting the state-imposed tax levy cap is another challenge, he said. “We have a very supportive taxpayer community here; we have to be very careful about not drawing too heavily on that loyalty,” Mr. Hossenlopp said.

He praised school administrators’ skill and professionalism and the faculty as being “highly motivated.” As for the students, “their record speaks for itself,” said Mr. Hossenlopp—a sentiment echoed by Ms. Smudzinski.

“We’ve got some fabulous kids in our class,” Ms. Smudzinski said of Amagansett’s contribution to East Hampton High School’s graduating class, of which her daughter is a member, while her son is a sophomore at the high school. Baylor University, Brown, University of Virginia, Wake Forest University are among the colleges Amagansett School graduates are headed to next fall.

Ms. Smudzinski, who works for Hamptons Realty Group, joined the Amagansett School Board in 2007 after serving as PTA president. She almost didn’t run for a third term this year, she said, but realized that, with new requirements “constantly coming down … from the state,” there is little time for an inexperienced board member to learn the ropes.

“We have to keep moving forward,” she said. “I think we’re doing a great job, and just really need to stay on course.”

Working in real estate, Ms. Smudzinski said, she realizes the Amagansett School helps keep property values up and sees how many people would prefer to live in the school district. Her family is from Amagansett and she moved there full-time 12 years ago.

Voting on Tuesday will be from 2 to 8 p.m. at the school. The $10.2 million budget proposal is 5.7 percent more than the $9.7 million budget for 2012-13. The proposed tax levy increase is 3.3 percent, which falls within the state tax levy cap and is the second-lowest in 12 years, according to the school district. If the budget is approved, the tax rate is expected to rise 2.98 percent. A newsletter from the district estimates that the budget would mean an increase of about $50.69 per year for a homeowner with property assessed at $6,000.

Voters will also be asked to approve the use of $225,000 from the capital reserve fund for new and upgraded security systems at the Amagansett School. These include updated public address and intercom systems, keyless cards to access the building, upgraded locks, panic buttons, video cameras and associated changes to the cable, electrical and telephone systems.

Votes can also be cast on a proposed $900,417 budget for the Amagansett Library on Tuesday.

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