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Feb 27, 2013 10:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue Board Of Education Will Consider Piercing Tax Cap

Feb 27, 2013 12:51 PM

Members of the East Quogue Board of Education said Tuesday night that they would consider piercing the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap in order to avoid layoffs during the 2013-14 school year.

School Superintendent Les Black announced during the meeting that teachers’ pension costs had increased by 17 percent, employee pension costs by 20 percent, and health insurance costs by 10 percent. He did not provide specific numbers on Tuesday night and, the next morning, said he did not have the information regarding those increases handy.

But Mr. Black said that hike in spending alone would require the district to increase the tax levy—or the amount it can raise in property taxes—by more than the cap allows.

“It’s a very difficult year for us,” he told board members and members of the community.

On Wednesday, Mr. Black said he did not have the amount by which the district can increase its overall spending next year and still remain under the cap.

Last year, the board adopted a $22.4 million spending plan that increased the tax levy by 2.2 percent, which fell well under the cap. Mr. Black explained that the district was able to stay under the cap, in part, because its teachers agreed to defer their salary increases—a “generous” and timely agreement, he said—and due to the fact that the board was able to utilize reserve funds that are not available this year.

“I don’t know if we will be as successful this year,” Mr. Black said.

School districts that opt to pierce the cap must get 60 percent of taxpayers, known as a super-majority, to sign off on their spending plans. If its spending plan fails, a board can put a second, amended budget to a vote. If it fails a second time, the district would be forced to adopt a budget that does not increase spending by one penny over the prior year.

Last year, 73 percent of taxpayers signed off on the current year’s budget.

“It’s a gamble,” Board of Education member Joseph Tsaveras said.

Mr. Black noted that salaries make up a large percentage of the school’s budget, and the board may have to consider eliminating positions in order to cut costs if it chooses to draft a budget that stays within the tax levy cap. He added that the board will have to make that decision before their meeting on March 19, when he will present his proposed budget.

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It was a well known fact that the Board of Education was aware that employee pension costs were going to skyrocket in 2013-2014. Unless the Board of Education increases class size and implement layoffs the residents will be facing a massive school tax increase. When will the over the top perks end for employees at the East Quogue Elementary School? Did we really need to spend $400,000 for the property next door to the school????
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Feb 27, 13 1:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Make sure you vote to break the 2% tax cap, because it is for the kids. How about the teachers pay a little bit more for medical? By the way they need that house next door so they can build their corporate operations center. They should go over to Hampton Bays, and see how MR Luce was surprised by the increase of pension costs. Where do we find these financial wizards? You can't make this garbage up
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 27, 13 8:00 PM
My pockets have runnrth empty. The cost of living has skyrocketed, I take home less pay since the fiscal cliff fiasco, no raises in the foreseeable future, I have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed...tax and spend, tax and spend, where will it end. time for the school to make some cut and start with School Superintendent Les Black taking a cut in pay as well as the teachers. I have taken pay cuts several times in the last few years, so I'm sure they can too.
By Jaws (245), Westhampton Beach on Feb 28, 13 3:03 AM
3 members liked this comment
In order to go forward there must be a backwards step. So let there be layoffs. Lets the teachers union feel the pinch of less revenues via dues. Taxpayers must take a stand against being embarrassed and guilted into giving teachers, police, etc. more pay increases and benefits. More tax revenue is never in the best interest if our children but for the selfish interests of those in charge. Taxpayers must take a firm stand. A no vote is not hurting our children, but will making those in charge more ...more
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Feb 28, 13 7:52 AM
3 members liked this comment
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By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Mar 1, 13 7:35 AM
The Cap is doing exactly what it was intended to do-curtail spending and the districts are doing all they can to exceed it; they act surprised by double digit increases in benefits because its getting harder to just pass the costs along to taxpayers. The solution to reduce spending will never come from within the districts-they have a vested interest in the status quo- Administrative consolidation by County should be done, but again this will never be put forth from the districts themselves.
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Mar 1, 13 7:36 AM