Jul 28, 2014
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Amagansettt Looks to Pierce the Cap

School district needs a 60 percent super-majority to pass the 3.99 percent tax levy increase.

Amagansettt Looks to Pierce the Cap

The is the only district in the Town of East Hampton that will ask voters on Tuesday for permission to pierce the new state-mandated 2 percent tax levy increase cap for the 2012-13 budget.

The new law requires an approval rate of 60 percent for the proposed $9.7 million budget, with an $8.43 million school tax levy.

Voters will have to decide whether the proposed tax levy increase of 3.99 percent is a comfortable figure in light that it also allows the district to maintain programs and support services for pre-kindergarten through sixth-graders.

Year over year, the budget increases $323,146, or 5.21 percent.

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During a public hearing on Tuesday, Superintendent and Principal Eleanor Tritt said the district the board of education studied the cost-benefit ratio of asking voters to pierce the cap. "The impact is really so little to the taxpayer," she said.

Under the proposed budget, homeowners with property having an assessed value of $6,000 will see an increase in school taxes of $64 per year, or $5.34 per month.

The increase, Tritt said, is largely in part to increases in enrollment in recent years. The school has a total of 128 students. Initially 129 students were projected for next year, a number that has recently jumped to 137. "Had we not had this huge increase in enrollment, we would have been under the tax levy," Tritt said.

Meanwhile, teaches took a salary freeze and the district is receiving $72,894 in tuition payback from East Hampton, as part of the agreement reached last year.

If the budget were voted down twice, Tritt said programs, $323,146 would have to be cut. School and summer instructional activities and the pre-kindergarten for three-year-olds would be among the first to go.

Tritt also said the district does not want to ask for less now by subsidizing the budget with the fund balance, and then be left with nothing in reserves down the line. She said one district on Long Island, with a $300 million budget, had a fund balance of $11 million four years ago, and now has $240,000. "That's something we want to avoid."

There are also two other propositions on the ballot. The first is a multi-year tuition agreement with the East Hampton School District, at the negotiated reduced rate. Tritt said the tuition agreement also has to be approved by a super-majority of 60 percent due the wording of the new governor's new law on the tax levy increases. Tuition costs the district $2.6 million, a whopping 27 percent of the budget.

Voters will also decide on the budget of $886,994.

There is one seat open on the board. Incumbent Mary Lownes is seeking re-election. Rona Klopman is also vying for the seat.

The will take place in the school gym on Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m.

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