Taxpayers Give Seven School Budgets Passing Grades


As far as school budget and board of eduction races are concerned, all was quiet Tuesday on the western front.

Voters in all seven school districts in western Southampton Town approved their respective 2014-15 spending plans, all of which came in below the state-mandated tax levy cap. Likewise, there were no major shake-ups in the board of eduction races as nine incumbents were successful in their reelection bids. Also, one first-time candidate won election in East Quogue in an uncontested race.

Westhampton Beach

Longtime Westhampton Beach Board of Education member Jim Hulme fended off a challenge from Stephen Wisnoski, a retiring history teacher in the district and a former teachers union president, to secure his fifth five-year term on the seven-member board. Mr. Hulme earned 307 votes while Mr. Wisnoski finished with 256 votes.

“I feel great,” Mr. Hulme said after his win was confirmed Tuesday night at the Westhampton Beach High School. “I plan on continuing to move forward and do what we can to make the district the best it can be.”

A Westhampton resident with a law practice in Westhampton Beach, Mr. Hulme has three adult daughters—Emily, Elizabeth and Catherine—all of whom have graduated from the district.

Mr. Wisnoski, who has been employed with the district for more than 30 years, immediately left the high school after losing the election. He did not return a call for comment on Wednesday morning.

Taxpayers also approved the proposed $54.7 million budget by a nearly four-to-one margin, with 460 people voting in favor and 125 opposing. The plan increases spending by $1.2 million without piercing the tax cap. The tax levy is expected to drop by just over $91,000, to just under $27.2 million. The projected tax rate, meanwhile, is expected to fall about two cents to $6.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Residents also approved a proposition to authorize the district to raise a sum of $2,101,861 to cover the operational expenses of the Westhampton Free Library for the 2014-15 school year. That measure passed 439-144.

Eastport South Manor

Eastport South Manor Board of Education incumbents Donna Moeller and Patricia Harran cruised to victory in their respective reelection bids, fending off challenger Stevenson Petit. Ms. Moeller received 688 votes to earn her second three-year term while Ms. Harran finished with 723 votes to earn her first full term. Mr. Petit, who collected 412 votes, has made unsuccessful runs for the board each of the last three years.

Taxpayers also overwhelmingly approved the district’s $92.6 million 2014-15 budget, which increases overall spending by $1.4 million, or 1.5 percent, next year. The spending plan, which was approved 810-291, is expected to bump up the district’s tax rate by 1.9 percent for taxpayers in both Southampton and Brookhaven towns. In Southampton, the tax rate is expected to go from $23.23 to $23.68 per $1,000 of assessed valuation while, in Brookhaven, the rate is expected to climb from $244.51 to $249.26 per $100.

Voters also approved Proposition 2, 924-169, allowing residents of the district to enjoy full library services through the Suffolk Cooperative Library System at a cost of $2.5 million for the 2014-15 school year. Taxpayers will have access to libraries in Westhampton, Riverhead, Center Moriches and Shirley.


Taxpayers in the Riverhead School District approved their district’s $121.2 million spending plan for 2014-15 by a two-to-one margin on Tuesday. The budget, which passed 1,704 to 933, increases overall spending by $3.6 million, or 3.1 percent.

In the five-person race for three open board seats, incumbents Gregory Meyer and Kimberly Ligon won reelection, and they will be joined by former board member Lori Hulse, who was the top vote-getter. Ms. Hulse, who served on the board from 2000 until 2006, finished with 1,782 votes. Ms. Ligon earned 1,626 votes and Mr. Meyer finished with 1,356 votes to earn the third open seat.

First-time candidates Gregory Fischer, who earned 828 votes, and Laurie Downs, who finished with 1106 votes, did not make the cut.

Ms. Hulse, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, previously shared that she has two children, ages 13 and 14, attending Riverhead schools and that she wants to get involved again with the district.

Taxpayers also approved Proposition 2, 1,588-973, which allows the district to float a nearly $4 million bond to cover the purchase of approximately 40 new buses over the next five years. They also signed off on Proposition 3, permitting the district to grant an easement allowing Long Island Head Start to tap into an existing water pipe that runs near the Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside. That measure passed 1,700-823.

Hampton Bays

Taxpayers in Hampton Bays also overwhelmingly approved their district’s $48.2 million 2014-15 budget. The measure passed 807-227.

The spending plan, which increases spending by $1.1 million, will also bump up the tax levy by approximately $500,000, to around $43 million. The district’s tax rate is expected to climb about 2.1 percent, from $12.79 to $13.06 per $1,000, as well.

Board of Education member Dorothy “Dot” Capuano was reelected to her second three-year term on the five-member board with 910 votes. Ms. Capuano, who has not returned calls seeking comment, also serves as president of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce and owns the Hampton Bays-based Shinnecock Star charter fishing boat.

Twelve other people received a single write-in vote each, according to district officials.


In Remsenburg-Speonk, taxpayers approved their school district’s $13 million budget by a more than three-to-one margin, 184-56. The budget, which increases overall spending by about $200,000, is also expected to bump up the tax rate by 2.2 percent next year, from $5.48 to $5.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Proposition 2, approved 226-14, authorizes the district to continue sending its middle and high school students to either the Westhampton Beach or Eastport South Manor school districts for the 2014-15 school year.

Approved 206-34, Proposition 3 permits the district to sign a one-year $257,933 contract with the Suffolk County Cooperative Library System, allowing residents access to the Westhampton Free Library.

Incumbent Board of Education member Deirdre DeVita received 225 votes in her uncontested bid for reelection. She will start her second term on July 1.

East Quogue

Taxpayers in East Quogue approved their school district’s $22.8 million budget, 642-175, on Tuesday. The plan increases overall spending by about $400,000, or nearly 2 percent, and is expected to bump up the tax rate by 1.4 percent, from $11.35 to $11.51 per $1,000 of assessed value.

They also approved Proposition 2, 681-136, authorizing the district to sign a one-year, $613,201 contract with the Suffolk County Cooperative Library System. District residents will be allowed to visit the Quogue, Westhampton or Hampton Bays libraries.

Additionally, incumbent Board of Education member Patricia Tuzzolo earned her third term on the board, receiving 619 votes. First-time candidate Cynthia McNamara earned 588 votes and will also join the five-member board on July 1. Both were in uncontested races. Ms. McNamara is filling the seat that will be vacated by Mario Cardaci, the current president, on July 1. Mr. Cardaci did not seek reelection.


Quogue School District taxpayers overwhelmingly approved their district’s $7.7 million budget, 83-3. The spending plan came in $87,000 lower than this year’s budget. Under the spending plan, the district’s tax rate is also expected to decrease, from $2.04 to $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Voters also approved two additional propositions. Proposition 2, which passed 86-0, permits the elementary school to continue sending its students in grades seven through 12 to Westhampton Beach School District for the 2014-15 school year. Proposition 3, approved 82-4, authorizes the district to collect $558,430 from taxpayers that will be used to fund the Quogue Library budget.

Board of Education member Larry Berman, who faced no challenge this year, received 77 votes and will begin his third term on July 1.

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