Voters in East Hampton approved piercing the 2-percent tax cap, while their counterparts in Bridgehampton voted down the same request for the coming school year.
The two districts were the only two on the South Fork, and were among four on Long Island, looking for approval to go over the state mandated cap on tax levy increases.
In a 134-to-113 vote, Bridgehampton School District voters said no to a $12.3 million spending proposal, which translated to a $10.6 million tax levy or an 8.8-percent increase in the tax levy, for the 2014-15 school year. The district needed a 60-percent majority of the voters who turned out to pass the budget. With 247 casting ballots, only 54.25 percent were willing to pierce the cap.
Under a state law that went into effect in 2012, the cap on property tax levy increases is either 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. This year's increase is capped at 1.46 percent.
The board will now have to decide whether to go out to the voters with the same budget a second time or make changes before a second vote. If a second vote fails, Bridgehampton will be forced to adopt the budget from the previous school year, with huge cuts expected.
Lois Favre, the district superintendent and principal, said the board and the district worked hard to make the community understand the need to pierce the cap. However, she said, she wasn't surprised the budget was voted down. "It disappointed me. We've been out in front of this since March," she said. "We'll see what the board wants to do now."
Voters did approve, however, the Bridgehampton Child Care budget, 157-to-89.
The voters in Bridgehampton also elected two new school board members; Jeffrey Mansfield received 187 votes and Kathleen McCleland took in 172. Along with Michael Gomberg, who ended up with 72 of the votes, they ran for two seats vacated by Elizabeth Kotz and Gabriela Braia, incumbents who decided not to seek re-election. The terms are for three years.
Before the polls closed required approval by 60 percent of voters.night, the mood in East Hampton was cautiously optimistic, with board members and school administrators on tenterhooks awaiting the final outcome of a budget vote that also
Seventy-three percent of them said yes to the $65 million budget, a vote of 492 to 184.
Patricia Hope and Jackie Lowey, the two uncontested incumbents, each sailed to victory, receiving 531 and 535 votes, respectively.
According to Richard Burns, the superintendent, annual turnout generally ranges between 600 to 800 voters. In the past decade, he can recall only one election where upwards of 1,000 residents turned out.
The district proposed a 1.3-percent increase in spending for the 2014-15 school year, and a 2.43-percent increase in the tax levy.
Other district results:
On Tuesday night, 10 minutes after the polls closed, Mary McCaffrey, the Wainscott clerk, called to confirm the district's results.
Thirty-nine Wainscott residents voted in favor of the $3.1 million 2014-15 school budget. No one voted it down.
David E. Eagan, the current president of the Wainscott School Board, was re-elected with 33 votes. There were two write-ins for Jeff Yusko and four blank ballots.
For results in Springs and Sag Harbor, click here.
For results in Montauk, click here.