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Apr 19, 2011 6:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue And East Quogue School Boards Adopt Spending Plans

Apr 20, 2011 1:37 PM

In anticipation of next month’s school budget vote, both the Quogue and East Quogue school boards have adopted their budgets—and officials from both districts say they have been able to maintain their staff and programs despite the cloudy economic climate.

Quogue School Superintendent Richard Benson said the School Board unanimously approved the district’s $7.5 million budget on April 12, at its monthly meeting. Mr. Benson said the 2011-12 budget would carry a 3.56-percent spending increase—about $300,000—from this year’s $7.2 million budget.

“We’re maintaining the program that we have,” Mr. Benson said. “With the cost of health insurance and teachers pensions, we’re lucky to keep it.”

The adopted budget carries an increase of 5 cents in the district’s tax rate—from $1.83 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.88 per $1,000. The slight increase means the owner of a home valued at $1 million will pay approximately $1,888 in school taxes next year, or $58 more than this year.

The district will get $240,000 in state aid next year, $35,000 less than the $275,000 in funding it received this year. This 14.5-percent decrease has caused officials to curb the district’s technology expenditures, cutting back on the technology expansion program at the Edgewood Road school for a savings of between $20,000 and $25,000.

“We’re putting it on hold,” Mr. Benson said. “The state aid we lost would have been for technology and expansion of the program.”

The superintendent also noted that the school’s enrollment is projected to increase from 188 students this year, to 196 students next year. Mr. Benson credits the small increase to more families moving into Quogue Village.

“We’ve been able to maintain staff and we’re providing the same services,” Mr. Benson said. “We’re happy with that.”

East Quogue

The East Quogue School Board voted in a special meeting on Monday, April 18, to approve the district’s $22 million budget for the 2011-12 school year—which, if approved on May 17, would account for a more than $500 tax increase for the average homeowner.

The adopted budget calls for an increase in spending of $636,159 from this year’s $21.3 million budget, according to district Business Administrator Elizabeth Lev. She said the majority of the nearly 3-percent spending increase came from a hike in tuition costs for students attending the Westhampton Beach School District, which accounted for $9.4 million of the budget.

According to Ms. Lev, the tax rate for district homeowners will jump almost 11.5 percent, from $9.16 per $1,000 of assessed valuation this year to $10.21 per $1,000 next year if the budget is approved by voters. For the average home assessed at $500,000, homeowners would see a $525 increase in their tax bill next year, from $4,580 to $5,105.

“The increases were because of gas, pensions—stuff we don’t have control over,” East Quogue School Board President Mario Cardaci said on Monday, after the budget had been adopted. “It was tuition, BOCES and contractual obligations.”

The district was also recently certified by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to use more than $250,000 in Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Funds, a mandatory district reserve fund that it was prohibited from tapping due to state education law.

According to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the East Quogue, Remsenburg-Speonk and Tuckahoe school districts were all granted permission to tap their individual funds—generally used solely for employee benefits—due to surpluses in those funds. Mr. Thiele said state officials decided to allow eligible districts to access the excess funds to make up for cuts in state aid.

Though East Quogue’s reserve totaled $285,396, the district will be able to use only $250,641—the same amount of state aid that was cut to the district. Mr. Thiele said the money is generally used to reinstate programs or reduce the tax rate. It was unclear what East Quogue officials would decide to do with the newly available funds.

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I am usually in favor of budget passing but this increase is really the pits. I will have to do a lot of thinking before I pull the YES button. Maybe their are many $$$$$ people in East Quogue but there are also many people who struggle daily.
I went to E. Q. school, my children and my grandson. Great school but things are getting out of hand.....

Carol Combes
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Apr 22, 11 10:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
I agreee
By KarenASmith (1), East Quogue on Apr 22, 11 10:31 AM
I noticed that last year NYS star program figure was $614.00 off my school taxes . This year the figure is estimated at only $540.00. This is $74.00 less. So in October we will get a rebate of say up to $100.00. Better save it as you will be giving it right back. Looks like some juggling of numbers with the state.. Budget looks good for this year but put on your safety belt you will be in for a bumpy ride next year. Carol Combes
By Histerical (20), East Quogue on May 19, 14 8:15 AM