Mattituck BOE adopts $38.85M budget

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04/18/2013 5:30 PM |
THE SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO | The Mattituck-Cutchogue school board is expected to adopt Superintendent James McKenna's proposed budget tonight.

THE SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO | The Mattituck-Cutchogue school board adopted Superintendent James McKenna’s proposed budget Thursday night.

The Mattituck Board of Education adopted Superintendent James McKenna’s proposed $38.85 million budget Thursday night, which carries an estimated 3.28 percent increase to next year’s tax levy.

His spending plan is a $853,139 increase compared to the current school year’s budget and calls for not replacing some retired teacher jobs, consolidating a few positions and laying off others. The staff reduction for the 2013-14 school year will be the “equivalency of 6.5 full-time” employees, Mr. McKenna said.

One position that was slated to be cut was a science specialist at Cutchogue East Elementary School, but was restored Thursday night after school board members expressed concern about the reduction.

The majority of programs — such as AP courses, BOCES and NJROTC — are included in the proposed spending plan.

As for next year’s tax hike, Mr. McKenna said the estimated 3.28 percent increase is below the state-mandated tax levy cap.

While a state law passed in 2011 caps year-to-year increases in the tax levy — the total amount the district collects from taxpayers — at 2 percent, the district is allowed to exceed the state’s mandate because some expenses such as pensions and capital costs are exempt.

Mr. McKenna said Mattituck is allowed to raise the tax levy to 3.65 percent without obtaining 60 percent voter approval. However, Mr. McKenna and the school board agreed to present a budget to residents below that amount.

“I think we’ve made an attempt to try to understand the needs of the taxpayers at the same time trying not to put ourselves in a position where we’d hurt ourselves in the future,” he said during the meeting.

With the addition of unanticipated state aid secured last month, coupled with various district spending reductions, several positions that were on the chopping block have since been restored in Mr. McKenna’s spending plan.

The extra state aid wasn’t anticipated when Governor Andrew Cuomo released his tentative state budget in January in Albany.

Mr. Cuomo’s proposed spending plan had earmarked about $2.21 million in state aid for the Mattituck district for the 2013-14 school year, which would have been an 10.05 percent decrease over the current school year. Two months later, the state Legislature secured an 8.22 percent boost, totaling nearly $2.66 million.

The school board voted 5-0 to approve next year’s spending plan. School board president Gerard Diffley and school board member Laura Jens-Smith were absent from the meeting.

The proposed budget will go before voters May 21.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Read more in the April 25 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

Mattituck-Cutchogue school board meeting agenda, April 18, 2013