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Mar 30, 2011 11:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor School Spending Up 5%; Taxes To Climb 4%

Mar 30, 2011 11:40 AM

The Sag Harbor School Board voted unanimously on Monday night to adopt a proposed $33.2 million operating budget for the 2011-12 school year and a 4-percent increase in the district’s overall tax levy to fund it.

The proposed budget, which will have to be ratified by Sag Harbor School District voters in a referendum on May 17, represents a 5.4-percent increase in spending over the district’s current 2010-11 budget, driven primarily by contractual salary and benefit increases for district faculty and staff.

The tax levy increase would mean some increases in taxes for district residents. According to a chart produced by Business Administrator Janet Verneuille, the owner of a house assessed at $500,000 on the Southampton Town side of the village would see his or her annual tax bill go up by $142 if the budget is approved as proposed. The same house on the East Hampton Town side of the village would see a $128 tax bill increase. For houses assessed at $1 million, those numbers would be doubled.

Compared to the nearly 12-percent hike in district taxes last year, which set off a tumultuous weeks-long debate over the possible need for layoffs and deep program cuts if the budget were to fail, this year’s modest spending increase has been met with little strife or concern from district parents. Unlike the 2010 meeting at which the district adopted its 2010-11 budget, which had to be held in the Pierson High School gymnasium to accommodate hundreds of teachers and residents, just a smattering of regular attendees of district meetings were in attendance on Monday.

Board members credited Ms. Verneuille, in her first full budget season since taking the reins of the district’s finances in early 2010, and Superintendent of Schools John Gratto, Ph.D., with much of the improvement in the finances. “I think you and John have both done a phenomenal job,” School Board President Walter Wilcoxen said to Ms. Verneuille on Monday.

The adopted budget carries in it some $546,000 in salary increases, $605,000 in additional costs for benefits, and $480,000 in capital work on the district’s two buildings. Board members said the work on the physical assets is dedicated to energy efficiency improvements, such as programmable thermostats and motion detecting lights, that would save the district some $33,000 a year in energy costs, and to critical health and safety repairs, such as replacing doors and renovating an electrical transformer closet.

The spending, along with several repair projects undertaken by the district’s own maintenance crews, rather than contract workers, would reduce the amount of a capital improvements bond the district expects to put up to voters in the fall by nearly $1.5 million. Voters rejected a $6.7 million capital projects bond in December 2009.

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Please defeat the budget this insane spending by the school districts must stop. No one is getting 5.4 percent raises. Are these people running the school district inept? Please don't answer it retorical. Oh I'm sorry we must maintain those great benefits for the teachers and administrators or your children will suffer, or your children will suffer. That will be the usual answer from those clowns in charge.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 30, 11 12:29 PM
Reread the article "represents a 5.4-percent increase in spending" not raises.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 30, 11 12:43 PM
"driven primarily by contractual salary and benefit increases for district faculty and staff."
By Mr. Z (11676), North Sea on Mar 30, 11 4:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Still not a 5.4% raise in salaries. How about if we are going to have a discussion we have an honest one?
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 30, 11 4:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
In 1971 you could work for $2 bucks an hour, and with that $2 bucks you could by eight gallons of gas, today's populace that make $7.25, or whatever minimum wage is an hour (you do the math) and can only buy about 1.9 gallons for their hour of labor, so people today are working for a lot less money. The 1.9 gallons was based on $3.77 a gallon.

I guess they really need the raises, while most everyone else has to pony up for them.

Honestly? Stick the avarice where the sun don't ...more
By Mr. Z (11676), North Sea on Apr 4, 11 8:47 PM
Doesn't matter how you phrase it it's an increase. You can't increase spending 5.4 percent ayear every year. No one out there is getting that. i quess you must be on the public payroll. If you lose your job you'll just sue, just like the Eastport Southmanor teachers are doing. pathetic
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 31, 11 12:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
ESM teachers are not suing for the loss of their jobs. The union is fighting on behalf of the special ed parents that are now getting their certified teacher HALF time, instead of full-time like every other student has.
By esm34 (9), manorville on Apr 9, 11 6:51 PM
I am a small business owner. My living depends upon no one but myself. Be careful how you peg people you don't know, it brings your credibility into question.

I support teachers, unions and collective bargaining. Without all of them the diminishing middle class would disappear completely.

I never resent anyone who might be doing better than me and I believe that instead of trying to take something away from hardworking, middle-class citizens, we should instead fight to ensure ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 31, 11 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
"no one out there is getting that". What is "that"? As was already pointed out, this is NOT a 5.4 percent raise. By the way, if you think no one out there is getting "that" and "that" is an actual 5.4% raise, talk to wall street or bankers or oil company execs. They're getting a he'll of a lot more than "that"
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Mar 31, 11 9:38 PM
You people have no idea what your talking about. If someone on Wall Street make money it does not increase your taxes. Where do you think the 5.4 percent is going? Not utilities or food. i don't begrudge anyone making a living but the school system model on LI no longer works. You have to ask yourself why does it take more school employees to educate fewer students?
By maxwell (169), speonk on Apr 1, 11 11:42 AM
Actually, out here that Wall St. exec DOES increase your property taxes.

Said exec brings his millions in earnings to the East End, helps inflate the value of real estate, thereby increasing the assesed value of a home.
By Mr. Z (11676), North Sea on Apr 6, 11 5:49 PM