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Mar 12, 2014 9:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Parrish Art Museum To Host Separate Vote On Tax Levy

Mar 12, 2014 10:15 AM

A public hearing will be held at the Parrish Art Museum next week regarding a proposed tax levy on Southampton School District residents that will support the museum during the 2014-15 school year.

According to Scott Howe, the deputy director of the Parrish, the tax is an annual levy on school district taxpayers. This year, however, the museum chose to hold a separate budget vote at the new Water Mill facility, rather than having it included as a referendum with the annual school budget vote in May. The idea, he said, is to allow voters to actually see what the Parrish has to offer with the money.

In a letter sent to residents from the Southampton School District, the Parrish said it will ask for a $326,509 levy from residents, a zero-percent increase over last year. An information meeting will be held at the Parrish Art Museum on Wednesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed budget. The vote on the levy is scheduled for April 9, with eligible taxpayers casting their vote at the museum.

“We decided that in our new building we have a great venue, and we want for voters to experience the Parrish and be a part of it,” Mr. Howe said, “to really connect with issue of the vote to the museum and its programs. Moving into our new facility in Water Mill, we thought this was an opportunity to make that possible.”

The tax levy is only applicable to residents of the Southampton School District.

According to Mr. Howe, the money generated will be used to create and maintain programs at the museum that local residents benefit from. He said the Parrish Art Museum has a total operating budget of $4.9 million, much of that raised from donations and fundraisers, and that the proposed tax levy has not increased over the past five years.

Each year, Mr. Howe said, the Parrish puts on a variety of shows that will benefit from the levy, including five art exhibits showcasing five artists from across the country, a sixth exhibit focusing on the work of school students, an after-school art program and an after-school outreach program. The museum also provides 300 tours and workshops throughout the year.

The money will also help support several partnerships with the Southampton School District, including the Parrish Art Club at the high school and an art history program for fifth and sixth graders.

“Just as in the past, the money goes toward our mission-related programs,” Mr. Howe said. “It goes toward the exhibits we bring, the programs brought by our education program for schools and adults.”

This week, Dr. Scott Farina, superintendent of the Southampton School District, said the district was not a part of the decision to remove the vote from the annual school vote, but that it hopes to continue a positive relationship with the Parrish Art Museum moving forward.

“Certainly, it has been a beneficial relationship in the past,” Dr. Farina said. “We would expect it would continue in the future.”

The vote is scheduled for Wednesday, April 9, also at the museum, with polls open from noon to 8 p.m. More information about the vote, and about museum services, is available online at Parrishart.org.

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Been voting in Southampton School District for years, but never really clued into the fact (my bad) that this is a direct subsidy toward the museum's general fund. I thought it was for specific school related programs only. But at $329,000 I guess I should have known better. Perhaps this xtra tax made some sense back in the old days when the museum was a smaller, local institution on Jobs Lane, but now? The Parrish has morphed into a much larger, regional cultural institution that serves the entire ...more
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Mar 13, 14 2:54 PM
Why? .. Perhaps it's the economic multiplier... simply put if people from "away" are attracted to the museum they will will probably spend money in the town... be it for gas or food or the like. locals, in most cases, will visit and go home without spending an extra dime.
By Split Rock (68), North Haven on Mar 14, 14 5:52 PM
Maybe they shouldn't have spent $20m on the build - which was a total ripoff. Then they would've had plenty of money to operate.
By SHResident (59), Southampton on Mar 13, 14 4:34 PM
They raised that money privately .... They cut back substantialy on the original plans and provide an important service to the community as well.
By Split Rock (68), North Haven on Mar 14, 14 5:55 PM
If the museum is so worried about money they should have not sold their old building to one of their board members for one million less than it was worth. Not to mention they didn't hire a local architect for their new building, and basically had a no bid contract for the construction. Now you need our money?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 15, 14 10:18 AM