Westhampton Beach School Board Adopts $55 Million Budget

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The Westhampton Beach Board of Education unanimously adopted a nearly $55 million spending plan for the 2015-16 school year on Monday night, though the actual tax implication of that increase is not yet clear.

The budget proposal raises overall spending by $236,565, or just slightly less than half of one percent, over the current year’s $54.7 million budget. To support this spending plan, the district will need to levy a little more than $28.1 million in taxes next year, a nearly 3.5 percent bump from this year’s $27.2 million levy.

Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday said the district is still in adherence with its tax cap, which was set at 3.6 percent by the state comptroller’s office based on various factors.

“It’s referred to as a 2-percent tax cap very often in the media,” Mr. Radday said, “but really it’s a limit that is derived from a formula put out by the state comptroller’s office and every school will have a different tax levy limit based on a variety of factors, including growth in the tax base and state aid revenues.”

This year Westhampton Beach lost about $355,000 in school building aid.

Because the levy fits under the cap, the budget will need only a simple majority to pass when it is put to a public vote on Tuesday, May 19.

The total assessment of the district, which includes Westhampton, Westhampton Beach and Quiogue, has not been set yet. But assuming it stays the same, homeowners would see their tax rate go up by almost 3.5 percent as well, from $6.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation this year to $6.48 per $1,000 next year. If that holds, a homeowner whose property is assessed at $500,000 would pay $3,240 in school district property taxes next year, up from $3,130 this year.

Early indications, however, suggest that the district’s total assessment could increase by as much 3 percent, Mr. Radday said during Monday’s meeting, meaning the tax rate increase could also be less than expected.

Additionally, because the district is staying under the cap and because the School Board plans on submitting an efficiency plan as called for by Governor Andrew Cuomo, district residents will qualify for a tax rebate equal to the actual increase in their tax bill, according to Mr. Radday.

Health insurance costs for all district employees are expected to jump by more than $500,000 next year, from $5.5 million to $6 million, under the proposed budget. Also, revenue from tuition is expected to drop by almost $278,000, from almost $21.7 million to $21.4 million, because the district is losing the last of its students from the Tuckahoe School District.

Other new expenses include the addition of an English teacher, a special education teacher, three English as a Second Language teachers and an English coordinator. The board has also set aside funding for a junior varsity boys volleyball team and a computer club in the middle school.

Following the announcement that it planned on reinstating the district’s English coordinator, Westhampton resident and former Westhampton Beach High School history teacher Steve Wisnoski asked if the board also planned to bring back the position of social studies coordinator. Mr. Radday told Mr. Wisnoski, who announced this week that he will seek a seat on the board next month, that the hope was to bring back all departmental coordinator positions as money allows.

The Board of Education will hold a public hearing to discuss the budget further at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 11, in the library of the Westhampton Beach High School.

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