East Quogue was the only school district on the South Fork to have its budget rejected by voters on Tuesday night.
The $23 million budget, which was also the only one in Southampton and East Hampton towns to pierce the 2-percent tax levy cap,
earned a vote of 494-340. But the district was just seven votes shy of reaching the required 60-percent approval needed for the budget to pass. The other districts, which proposed budgets under the cap, were required to garner only a 50-percent majority.
The rejected East Quogue budget would have increased overall spending by 2.9 percent, and the tax levy by 2.6 percent. East Quogue officials estimated that the tax rate would have jumped from $10.37 to $10.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Parents and school administrators who eagerly awaited the results Tuesday night said they were shocked and disappointed at the news. The Board of Education now will head back to the drawing board to decide whether to draft a second, amended budget, or put the same budget up for a second vote this summer—a risky option, board members said. If the second vote fails, the district will be forced to adopt a budget with a zero-percent tax levy increase, which would mean massive cuts to programs and staff.
District officials said they would need to slash $587,000 more from the budget in order to reach the cap, which would result in the elimination of an additional six or seven full-time jobs, including teaching positions. The rejected budget already eliminated two teacher aides, a part-time librarian and a special education teacher, and reduced a full-time foreign language teacher to part-time.
Superintendent Les Black said he felt frustration and “anger over the fact that we proposed a budget that was less than the average increase on Long Island, yet, because of this inane formula, we had to achieve 60 percent as opposed to 50. I think the governor and our local legislators need to take a look at the mess they’ve made,” he added.
East Quogue voters elected Carrie Bender, who received 513 votes, and Dianna Gobler, who received 488 votes, to the Board of Education. Incumbent Joseph Tsaveras received 387 votes and lost his seat.
Voters approved Proposition 2, 725-107, which authorized the district to approve a three-year tuition contract for students in grades seven through 12 with the Westhampton Beach School District for the period of July 1, 2013,
to June 30, 2016. They also approved Proposition 3, 634-110, which authorizes the district to collect $601,036 in taxes to allow its residents, who do not have their own library, to visit the Quogue, Westhampton Beach or Hampton Bays libraries.
The Hampton Bays School District’s $47.1 million budget passed easily,
934-418. The budget will increase overall spending by 2.6 percent, and the tax levy by 2.7 percent, though various exceptions and exemptions will keep it below the state cap. District officials estimated that the tax rate would jump from $12.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $12.50 per $1,000.
Voters also approved Proposition 2, 991-356, which will eliminate the bus route that serves kindergarten students who live within one mile of the elementary school.
Incumbent Richard Joslin was reelected to the Board of Education with 999 votes, and newcomer Kevin Springer received the second-highest number of votes, 721,
to earn the other open seat. Adam Ortiz received 622 votes.
Voters in Westhampton Beach approved the $53.5 million budget, 493-200. The budget represents a 3.4
-percent increase in spending compared to the current year’s $51.8 million plan. The tax rate will increase 3.58 percent, from $5.86 to $6.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Voters also approved the $2 million library budget, 477-209.
In the Board of Education races, Claire Bean will be joining the seven-member board after receiving the most votes, 459, and incumbent Halsey Stevens will retain his seat with 395 votes. Former board member Joyce Donneson received 344 votes in a losing effort.
Eastport South Manor voters
approved the district’s $91.2 million spending plan, 1,045-530. The budget represents a 4.8-percent increase in spending over the current year’s $87 million budget.
Southampton Town residents living in Eastport can expect a 2.8-percent increase in the tax rate, up 60 cents, from $21.69 to $22.29 per 1,000 of assessed valuation. Brookhaven residents can expect a 2.7-percent increase in the rate, or $6.55, from $238.37 to $244.92 per $100 of assessed valuation. In Riverhead Town, a 2.8-percent increase in the tax rate is projected, as it is expected to climb by $3.91, from $142.05 to $145.96 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Voters also approved a proposition allowing the transfer of $2.34 million from the district’s liability reserve fund to the retirement contributions reserve fund, 1,032-514.
The proposition authorizing a one-year, $2.45 million contract with the Suffolk Cooperative Library System also passed, 1,252-317.
In a highly contested Board of Education election, incumbents Karen Kesnig, who received 752 votes, and Marie Brown, with 695 votes, will retain their seats. They will be joined by Nick Vero, who received 614 votes. The three
bested Erik Lassen (506 votes), John Squicciarini (380), Ken Colvin (321), Margot McGinniss (299), Nicolette Krumholz (273) and Stevenson Petit (249).
Taxpayers in the Remsenburg-Speonk School District approved the $12.9 million budget,
240-120. The spending plan represents a 4.2-percent increase in spending from the current year’s $12.35 million budget. In turn, the district is expecting the tax rate to climb about 2.3 percent, from $5.26 to $5.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Residents also voted 322-37 in favor of continuing the tuition contract with Westhampton Beach and Eastport South Manor school districts, and 294-65 to maintain a contract with the Westhampton Free Library.
School Board candidates John Barry, who received 297 votes, and John Kern, with 274, will b
e on the board next year. Both were unopposed.
Quogue voters approved the district’s $7.82 million budget, 82-10. Voters also approved Proposition 2, which authorizes the board to approve a tuition contract with the Westhampton Beach School District, by a margin of 86-5. They also signed off on Proposition 3
, which authorizes the district to collect $546,946 from taxpayers to operate the Quogue Library. That measure passed 85-5.
Three candidates ran unopposed for the Board of Education: Incumbent Lauren Battista received 79 votes, incumbent Barbara Sartorius received 73 votes, and newcomer Joyce Flynn received 73 votes.