School Budgets, Elections Tuesday

From the 2013 vote at East Hampton High School

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to decide on school budgets and elect school board members, and in two districts on the South Fork, voters are being asked to consider budgets that pierce the 2-percent tax 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.

Amagansett

The Amagansett School Board has proposed a $10.47 million budget for 2014-15, representing a spending increase of 2.5 percent over last year. The tax levy will increase by 1 percent, slightly under the state-imposed cap.

Along with the budget vote, three candidates -- Patrick Bistrian, Phelan Wolf, and Patrick Bistrian III -- are running unopposed for the school board.

A vote on the budget will be held at the school on Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m.

Bridgehampton

Voters in Bridgehampton have big decisions — electing two new members to the school board and deciding whether to pierce the tax cap.

The $12.3 million spending proposal for the 2014-15 school year is an increase of $1.1 million, or 9.93 percent, over the current year's $11.2 million budget. Additionally, the district is proposing a $10.6 million tax levy, an increase of 8.8 percent, or $855,819, over the current year's $9.8 million levy.

The increase is due primarily to contractual increases and to allow the district to keep up with other required state mandates, according to the district. Had the board decided not to pierce the cap, it said the district would have to lay off at least four teachers.

Under the proposed plan, the tax rate is expected to rise 7.7 percent, from $1.55 to $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. For instance, homeowners whose properties are valued at $500,000 can expect to pay approximately $56.64 more in taxes.

Michael Gomberg, Jeffrey Mansfield, and Kathleen McCleland are in the running for two seats on the Bridgehampton School Board. The terms are for three years.

Mr. Mansfield is a familiar face, having just run, unsuccessfully, for Southampton Town Board last fall. A full-time father of three children who attend the school, he is the president of the Bridgehampton School Foundation, among his other community involvement.

Ms. McCleland is a Bridgehampton native and a former vice president of corporate event planning at Goldman Sachs. She works as a pastry chef.

Mr. Gomberg has two children in the Bridgehampton School and works in finance in Southampton.

Voting will take place at the Bridgehampton School from 2 to 8 p.m.

East Hampton

The East Hampton School District needs the support of 60 percent of voters who turn out on Tuesday in order to override the state-mandated 1.46-percent cap on tax levy increases for its $65 million budget.

The district is proposing a 1.3-percent increase in spending for the 2014-15 school year, and a 2.43-percent increase in the tax levy. Had it stayed within the tax cap, the school board told voters, the district would have had to lay off teachers and support staff and "cut deeply into our instructional programs."

Patricia Hope and Jackie Lowey, incumbents. are seeking their second, three-year terms on the board.

Voting takes place at East Hampton High School from 1 to 8 p.m.

Montauk

Two candidates are in a tight race for a seat on the Montauk School Board. Jason Biondo, who has three children in the district and owns Hammerhead Construction and the Antique Lumber Company, and Cynthia Ibrahim, who has a daughter in fifth grade, are running for the one five-year term that is open on the board.

Voters are also being asked to consider a 2014-15 budget proposal in the amount of $18.6 million, a decrease of about $100,000 from this year. The tax levy increase is .43 percent, under the state cap.

There is also a proposition on the ballot that would authorize the school district to spend $400,000 from its capital fund to replace two modular classrooms that were installed 40 years ago.

The vote is scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school gym.

Sag Harbor

The Sag Harbor School District has put out a $36.8 million budget proposal for the 2014-15 school year. The budget represents an increase of $1.3 million, or 3.83 percent, over this year's $35.5 million budget. Sag Harbor's cap on tax levy increases next year is actually 1.51 percent; the district is proposing an increase of 1.48 percent.

If the budget passes, taxpayers in the Sag Harbor School District, which straddles the East Hampton-Southampton town line, will pay an increase of about $5.80 per month for a house assessed at about $1 million.

Voters are also deciding between four candidates for three positions on the school board. Hoping to keep their seats, Theresa M. Samot, the current school board president, and Sandi Kruel are seeking their fourth terms in office, while Thomas C. Ré, an attorney and the father of a high school student, and Diana Kolhoff, a math educational consultant and former teacher who has two daughters in the elementary school, are looking for a seat at the table. The terms are for three years each.

The vote takes place in the Pierson High School gym on Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m.

Springs

In Springs, the $26.6 million 2014-15 school budget proposal is a 4.9-percent increase over the current budget of $25.4 million. The tax levy would increase by 3.18 percent, which is under the state-imposed 1.46 percent tax cap after exemptions are taken into account.

In a separate proposition, voters are being asked to approve a $2 million capital reserve fund. The fund would allow improvements like classroom additions and renovations, a cafeteria, and numerous structural upgrades.

Owners of houses with a town evaluation of $400,000 would see a tax hike of $163. Properties valued at $600,000 would see an increase of $245; those valued at $800,000 would pay $326 more.

Elizabeth Mendelman, the board president, and Timothy Frazier, a current school board member who is the principal of the Southampton Intermediate School, are running unopposed for three-year terms.

Voters can cast ballots at the school from 1 to 9 p.m.

Wainscott

The 2014-15 budget proposed for the Wainscott Common School District is $3.1 million, a $345,370 decrease from this year. The tax levy will decrease 10.84 percent, and the tax rate is to go down 11 percent. Tax rates in the district continue to be among the lowest of the schools that send students to East Hampton School District.

David E. Eagan, the president of the Wainscott School Board, is running for re-election. He is facing personal legal trouble, having been arrested in late February on a tax fraud charge. He declined to comment.

On Tuesday afternoon, voters can cast their ballots from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Wainscott School.