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Apr 17, 2012 1:41 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Remsenburg-Speonk School Board Delays Budget Adoption Until Friday

Apr 17, 2012 4:58 PM

The Remsenburg-Speonk Board of Education postponed adopting its 2012-13 budget on Monday night in order to give administrators until Friday to look into further cost-saving initiatives for the district.

According to School Superintendent Dr. Ronald Masera, the district is still evaluating suggestions from community members regarding the proposed budget which, as it now stands, would total $12.5 million and increase overall spending by $343,379, or 2.8 percent, over this year’s $12.2 million budget. He said it would be unfair to taxpayers if officials did not consider all options for lowering next year’s budget, including possibly reducing the district’s transportation costs.

“We are actually still looking at some things and although we planned to adopt the budget tonight, we also are examining some other potential revenue sources,” Dr. Masera said during Monday’s board meeting. “We are waiting on a little bit more information that could potentially change things, especially our revenue.”

Still, district officials still expect to shatter the new 2 percent state cap on the tax levy, meaning that 60 percent of taxpayers, considered a super-majority, will have to approve the spending plan on May 15 for it to pass. As things now stand, the district’s tax levy, or the amount it must raise each year through property taxes, is set to jump by $752,335, or 6.85 percent, from almost $10.98 million this year to just shy of $11.73 million next year. Last week, Dr. Masera explained that an expected $682,000 increase in tuition fees to be paid to the Westhampton Beach School District is largely responsible for the bump in the tax levy. That budget line is expected to skyrocket 14.5 percent, from about $4.7 million this year to $5.4 million next year.

Remsenburg-Speonk’s estimated tax rate for next year is expected to increase by about 35 cents, or nearly 7 percent, from $5.01 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to approximately $5.36. Therefore, a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $1 million can expect to pay about $5,360 in school taxes next year, or $350 more than the current year.

“If we vote now when we don’t know what we could know by Friday, it is like voting no to savings,” said School Board President Kevin Federico during Monday night’s meeting.

A special meeting to adopt the budget has been scheduled for Friday, April 20, at 8 a.m., in the administrative suite of the elementary school on Mill Road in Remsenburg. The meeting is open to the public.

Also on Monday night, Dr. Masera announced that the district is seeking the community’s help in keeping children off the elementary school roof. Recently, officials discovered that children are climbing onto the roof and skateboarding down its peak and onto a level part.

“It is somewhat dangerous and we are concerned on a number of levels,” Dr. Masera said. “We are fearful that somebody will get hurt on our roof—or worse.”

He said the police have been called to investigate the situation, and encourages those who see children and teenagers accessing the school roof to contact the authorities.

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