The East Quogue School Board unanimously adopted a $22.4 million spending plan for 2012-13 last week, a budget that does not exceed the state’s new 2 percent cap on tax levy increases.
Overall spending will increase by just over $300,000 next year, or 1.5 percent, over the current year’s $22 million budget. The tax rate is projected to go up by 2.2 percent, from $9.97 per $1,000 of assessed value to $10.19, said Business Manager Elizabeth Lev. Therefore, a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $500,000 will pay about $5,100 in school property taxes next year, or $110 more than this year.
The tax levy will also increase by 2.2 percent, to $19.7 million. School Superintendent Les Black said the district would have been able to raise the levy by as much as 2.6 percent because the state allows for certain exemptions.
Mr. Black said he was proud that the budget did not exceed the cap—a situation that would have required more than 60 percent of voters to approve next year’s spending plan on May 15.
“If you would have said to me six, eight weeks ago that we’d be coming in under the cap without destroying a lot of what goes on in the building, I would have questioned your sanity,” he said.
The outlook improved when district teachers agreed to forgo a salary increase from this year to next year, Ms. Lev said.
The spending increase is driven by higher tuition payments to the Westhampton Beach School District, where East Quogue students go after sixth grade. Costs for the district’s single school, East Quogue Elementary, will decrease by $89,566, or 1 percent, to $11.3 million.
The district will hold a budget hearing on Tuesday, May 1, at 7:45 p.m., at the elementary school on Central Avenue.