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School board approves $117.6 million budget

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The Riverhead Board of Education last night approved a $117.6 million operating budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The proposal represents a $6.1 million, 5.22 percent, budget-to-budget spending increase over the current fiscal year, according to Riverhead School Superintendent Nancy Carney.

The tax levy to fund the operating budget will increase by 3.82 percent over the current year’s tax levy, according to numbers presented by Carney at last night’s board meeting. The district will use $2.75 million if its appropriated fund balance to reduce the tax levy increase, Carney said.

The proposed tax levy increase is complies with the state “tax cap” law, which allows for a tax levy increase in Riverhead of 5.14 percent this year, according to the superintendent. That number is higher than 2 percent because of exclusions from the cap allowed by the law for a portion of the district’s mandated retirement system contributions. The district’s obligation to the teachers retirement system is determined by the state and to the extent that the required contribution increases more than 2 percent, it is exempt from the cap under the tax cap legislation.

The capital tax levy, $2.4 million for 2013-2104, is wholly excluded from the tax levy cap, the superintendent said.

Approximately 78.9 percent of the proposed $117.5 million will be spent on program expenses, with 12.3 percent going to fund administration expenses and 8.9 percent on capital expenses.

The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m.

The budget vote is scheduled for May 21. Also up for a vote that day will be two ballot propositions. 

The first proposition would allow the board to establish a capital reserve savings account of up to $10 million using money from the sale of district-owned property on Tuthills Lane and undesignated, unreserved fund balances to pay for the project, which would include a new bus garage and maintenance area, as well as improvements to athletic fields.

The second proposition would also pull funds from the Tuthills Lane property sale to allow the board to purchase two parcels of land, referred to by Superintendent Carney as the “paper road,” to improve access to the proposed site of the new bus garage, located on three district-owned acres of land behind Philips Ave. Elementary school.

The parcels, totaling 60,000 square feet, would allow vehicles at the proposed bus garage site access to Route 24/Flanders Road via Enterprise Zone Road.

Two seats on the Board of Education are up for grabs this year, with trustees Jeff Falisi and Amelia Lantz seeking re-election. A third candidate has filed nominating petitions qualifying him for a spot on the ballot: Chris Dorr of Baiting Hollow.