Springs Spared the Ax

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Springs School District residents will likely be asked to vote on a nearly $25 million school budget proposal and for candidates to fill two seats on the School Board next month.

School Board President Christopher Kelley said on Monday that he had not yet decided whether to run for another three-year term. Thomas Talmage, another board member whose term is expiring, did not answer an email asking whether he planned to run by this edition’s deadline. Nominating petitions need to be returned to the district clerk by April 18.

“Yes, the plan is for the board to adopt, on April 11, a budget to put up to vote on May 17,” said Springs Superintendent Michael Hartner in an email on Monday. “We still don’t have a definitive figure yet. Nothing has changed since the meeting of March 28.” Monday’s meeting will be held at the school starting at 7:30 p.m.

At last count, the proposed 2011-12 budget stood at about $24.8 million, roughly $1.5 million more than the previous year’s. Accompanying it would be a tax-rate increase of 5.8 percent, about half of what administrators originally feared would be a nearly 12-percent increase. A tuition agreement reached last month with the East Hampton School District, to which Springs sends its high school students, shaved an estimated $1.2 million from the budget.

According to a March 25 press release announcing the tuition agreement, Mr. Hartner identified more than $500,000 overpaid by Springs in the first year of the current tuition agreement. Springs is to be reimbursed a total of about $860,000.

Under the proposed budget, a fund balance originally slated for increased tuition costs would be used to pay $323,000 to repair the school roof and buy a new bus. Budget increases arise primarily from increases in pension contributions, health insurance, and Social Security and special education expenses with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Child Development Center of the Hamptons, and residential placements for two students. Anticipated cuts in aid from the state, BOCES, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 increase the amount of money that will need to be raised by taxes.

If the budget is adopted and approved as it, the increase for the average property owner would be $289 in 2011-12, according to paperwork from three budget work sessions held at the school.

The budget will be available at the school for review beginning May 3. A budget hearing will be held at the school at 7 p.m. on May 9. The budget and board vote will be from 1 to 9 p.m. on May 17.

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