Small Increase, Still Over Cap

Christine Sampson

The Amagansett School Board unanimously adopted a $10.47 million 2016-17 budget proposal that will increase the tax levy by $327,000, or 3.74 percent, piercing the New York State-imposed tax levy cap.

Slightly more than $9 million in revenues is to be collected through taxes.

More than $300,000 would have to be slashed from the budget in order to stay under the tax levy cap, Eleanor Tritt, the superintendent, said after the board’s meeting on Tuesday, with “a major impact on our program” the inevitable consequence.

The budget reflects a $36,000 increase in expenditures over last year’s budget, or one-third of 1 percent, Ms. Tritt told the board. “We’ve kept it as low as possible for the last three years,” she said.

Increased tuition costs and staff salaries account for the spending increase, Ms. Tritt said after the meeting. Tuition costs were expected to total a higher-than-anticipated $2.6 million, she said last month, with teacher salaries to rise by 1.5 percent, per contractual agreement, to $4.4 million.

The preliminary budget, unveiled on Feb. 23, had called for a 3.47-percent tax levy increase. The last revised version before the one adopted on Tuesday included a 3.8-percent rise, Ms. Tritt said. In order to offset increases and keep expenses to a minimum, she said, there will be no transfer to the district’s capital projects fund, a first.

Among the items considered for elimination in the event that a 60-percent majority of voters does not approve the budget, Ms. Tritt said, are prekindergarten for 3-year-olds, after-school programs, summer programs, field trips, and equipment acquisitions, as well as a change in some teachers’ status from full to part-time.

Last month, the board also unanimously approved a two-year contract extension for the superintendent, effective July 1. Ms. Tritt will receive an annual salary of $195,520.

Also included in the contract is housing in the district-owned residence on Miankoma Lane adjacent to the school grounds, a cellphone and computer for home use, which are to be returned upon conclusion of her employment, and a $2,000 account for “expenses necessary and proper to the performance of her duties and responsibilities incurred in relation to her employment.”