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$59.5M School Budget on Ballot in Southampton

Southampton School Board puts a 2.48 percent tax levy increase before the voters May 15.

The Southampton School Board approved a $59.5 million budget April 3 to put before school district voters that is just under New York State’s new cap on tax levy increases and maintains all student programs and services as well as class sizes.

The 2 percent cap, which was enacted for the first time this budget cycle, includes several exceptions that districts can utilize, making Southampton School District’s effective tax cap 2.48 percent. Total spending will only rise 1.74 percent.

For a school district to exceed its cap, its budget must pass with 60 percent of the vote, rather than a simple majority.

As the district adjusts to its first year under the cap, it also faces an anticipated drop of $200,000 in tuition payments from , as takes in fewer Tuckahoe students. State aid has risen $35,000, while other revenues are expected to remain flat.

The  spending plan calls for reducing several positions and replacing some employees at a lower cost through attrition, for a total savings of $584,546. The budget eliminates a dean of students, two teachers, a therapist, a counselor, three bus matrons and a part-time custodian, and replaces a teacher, teacher assistant and therapist.

Southampton has also pursued savings through shared services with neighboring districts and negotiating lower staff costs.

The tax rate is expected to rise 2.44 percent. In recent years, higher assessments and more developments being added to the tax rolls in Southampton have given taxpayers a bit of a reprieve. In fact, during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, the tax rate decreased while the tax levy grew, because the total assessed value of real estate within the district climbed. But in 2011-12, the year-to-year change was just a quarter of a percent — it was originally anticipated to be 2.4 percent — and it is expected to be even less in the coming school year, just 0.04 percent.

In 2011, a tax levy increase of 4.31 percent, by 621 to 363. There was more than enough affirmative votes for the district to have exceeded the tax cap, had it been imposed in 2011.

A budget hearing is planned on May 1 in the library at 7:30 p.m. The school budget vote and school board elections are May 15.

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