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Apr 3, 2012 3:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach School Board Adopts $51.8 Million Budget

Apr 4, 2012 10:40 AM

The Westhampton Beach Board of Education unanimously agreed Monday night to adopt a $51.8 million budget for the 2012-13 school year, a spending plan that will require the support of 60 percent of taxpayers since it pierces the state’s new cap on the tax levy.

The adopted plan, which was presented to the public last month, eliminates seven positions throughout the district—including three teacher posts—and cuts all funding for the district’s adult education program. In addition to an elementary school enrichment program teacher, a middle school reading teacher and a district speech teacher, the school district will lay off a security guard, two hallway/cafeteria monitors and leave its director of technology position vacant.

“The adopted budget is the culmination of many months of hard work and thoughtful deliberation,” Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday wrote in an email on Tuesday. “We tried to find an appropriate balance between the needs of our students and the concerns of our taxpayers.”

The budget proposal will result in a 2.89 percent increase in the tax levy, according to school officials. Under the spending plan, the tax levy—the amount that a school district can raise each year in property taxes—is expected to climb from $25.6 million this year to approximately $26.3 million next year.

Since the budget exceeds the 2 percent tax levy cap, the district will need 60 percent of voters, or a supermajority, to approve the budget in May in order for it to pass. Last year, nearly 65.2 percent of voters approved the current $50.4 million spending plan; the budget passed, 436-233.

If their attempt to pierce the cap fails and the budget is voted down, board members still have the option of revising their spending plan and holding a second vote. The difference this year is, if that happens and the budget is rejected twice, school officials must then adopt a spending plan that has a zero-percent increase on the tax levy.

“I think we worked very hard to balance the program needs versus the economic needs and I think that we came up with a very nice compromise,” said James Hulme, the president of the Westhampton Beach Board of Education. “As always, it is up to the voters of our district to agree or disagree.”

On Monday night, Mr. Radday explained that his plan increases overall spending by $1.4 million, or 2.84 percent, from this year’s $50.4 million budget. As a result, the district’s tax rate would increase about 16 cents, or 2.89 percent, from nearly $5.53 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to almost $5.69.

Therefore, a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $800,000 will pay approximately $4,552 in school taxes next year, or about $128 more than the current year.

District residents will vote on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 15.

“This budget maintains the quality educational programs that our community has worked so hard to build over many years,” Mr. Radday wrote in an email.

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Is anyone surprised?
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 3, 12 8:15 PM
Nope, but perhaps the answer might be for a higher voter turnout at budget time. Many complain, but do they take the time to vote? Just because you don't think you can make a difference in the outcome is no reason not to vote. Voter apathy is why things in many school districts have gotten out of control.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 7, 12 1:49 PM