The Bridgehampton School Board plans to try to pierce the state’s cap on tax levy increases, Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre confirmed this week.
The School Board was expected to finalize a 2014-15 budget proposal at a meeting on Wednesday, April 23.
Most recently, the district has been looking at a $12.3 million budget for next year, which would represent a 9.9-percent increase in spending over the 2013-14 budget. The tax rate would be expected to rise 7.7 percent, from $1.55 to $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed value, with the owners of a $500,000 home paying $56.64 more in taxes next year.
“Unless changes are made by the Board of Education at tomorrow’s meeting, these are the numbers we are looking at,” Dr. Favre said in an email on Tuesday. “The unanimous decision to pierce came first from the community at the community forum, and the board agreed that we needed to pierce at the last meeting.”
Among the most drastic increases in expenses are $332,336 more for employee benefits, a $270,563 increase in contributions to the Teachers Retirement System, and $160,000 for a contract with the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center, the superintendent said.
After starting off the budget season with a relatively optimistic $12.6 million figure, the board made cuts in staff development, technology development and summer curriculum work, and removed a proposal for additional staffing or increasing staff hours. Since the state-mandated cap on tax levy increases went into effect, the district has also cut support staff, administration and teaching positions, Dr. Favre said.
If the School Board approves a budget whose tax levy would pierce the cap, it would need 60 percent of voters to approve it on May 20, rather than a simple majority.