Southampton School District Starting Merger Information Meetings

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The Southampton School Board is kicking off a series of public information meetings about the proposed annexation of the Tuckahoe School District, roughly one month before straw votes in the community will decide if the proposition goes to a full referendum.

The community forums are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 29, at the Southampton Cultural Center; 7 p.m. on November 5 at the Water Mill Community House; 6:30 p.m. on November 6 at the North Sea Community House; and 6:30 p.m. on November 12 at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

The November 18 straw poll will be the first of two votes on a reconfigured plan for the Southampton School District to annex the Tuckahoe School District. If approved separately in the straw votes in both districts, the merger would move to a final vote by the combined school districts in January, which would need majority approval to merge the two districts on July 1, 2015.

Since the first straw votes failed to pass in Southampton last year, that district has come up with a new “merger concept,” which includes two pieces of legislation from Albany—one that would slowly roll out tax increases for Southampton residents, and another that would allow the district to use capital reserve funds to offset tax increases. The district is using a line-by-line comparison of both districts’ budgets to create a new, joint spending plan without any redundancies.

With the new spending plan, Southampton School District officials believe they can offer more concrete numbers to taxpayers. According to Southampton officials, the current Tuckahoe School tax levy is $16,855,182, while the Southampton school tax levy is $50,749,238. Combining services and joining the two districts would create a combined school tax levy of $67,604,420 for the 2015-16 school year. Southampton officials said they believe they can curb unnecessary spending in the two districts.

With the reevaluated figures from Southampton, the merger would account for an incremental increase in the tax rate for a home in Southampton over the next decade from $2.44 to $2.77 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means that for the 2024-25 school year, the tax associated exclusively with the merger would add no more than $330 to the overall school tax bill for a house valued at $1 million. For the years in between, the taxes paid to cover the merger would rise gradually until reaching that $330 cap.

More information about the proposal, including how to get an absentee ballot, is available online at southamptonschools.org.

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