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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.

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.

amagansett voter May 10, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Why is the Amagansett Library budget so high, when Montauk Library budget is $700,768 serving a larger community?
amagansett voter May 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Why does Amagansett need to spend $70,000 per student next year?
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
The Amagansett Library budget is increasing $13,160 from last year. There are no big ticket items, just the increases in gas, electric, building maintenance, insurance, postage, etc. According to library director Cynthia Young, the library served 35,626 people in 2011.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Amagansett Voter, 137 is the number of students projected for Pre-K through grade 6. The budget includes tuition for 85 secondary students in grades 7-12.
Mary ann La Carrubba May 11, 2012 at 12:36 AM
The Amagansett Library is a wonderful asset to our town. There is such a good variety of options for all ages. I always vote for the library it's the hub of Gansett.
Amagmom May 11, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Amagansett should stop letting teachers bring their kids to school since thy live out of district. This would be a chunk out of the budget. This is run like a private school.
Elaine Jones May 11, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I think our children are worth $64 a year in increased taxes. I cannot imagine a better way to spend my money. They are the future.
Lady L May 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM
It makes me so angry that every year Amagansett school needs huge amounts of money for their small number of students. Maybe they need to get a new board, a new accountant or increase teacher's contributions to their own pensions and insurance like everyone else has to do. Can they not understand we are overtaxed already??? Follow the governor's cap and stop thinking you're better than everybody else!
Dana Kalbacher May 12, 2012 at 09:16 PM
The Amagansett Library is a rare gem..everyone is so helpful and they have many resources packed into all the nooks and crannys! Books and materials beautifully maintained..vote for the library..it is part of Amagansett's soul.

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