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Boost in state aid lowers tax levy increase for Southold’s budget

The Southold Board of Education adopted a $29.44 million budget for the 2017-18 school year at Wednesday’s meeting.

Although the total budget remained the same as initially introduced last month, the amount the district is looking to increase the tax cap has since decreased, said Chuck Scheid, assistant superintendent for business.

The levy will now increase only 1.52 percent — originally slated to increase by 1.6 percent, which is the district’s tax cap limit — thanks to more state aid than initially expected, Mr. Scheid said.

“This is good news,” he said. “With late budget approval from the state since our last meeting, there’s an additional $20,000 of state aid that came in to us and because it’s so late we basically reduced the tax levy directly. So we’re actually $20,000 below the cap because of the late approval.”

In March, Mr. Scheid said the district was expecting state aid to rise “modestly” by $10,000.

Overall, the total budget is up 1.49 percent over the 2016-17 budget, which translates to more than a $430,000 increase.

As reported in March, the district is saving nearly $100,000 in the special education program by discontinuing the Southold Academy program, which didn’t see enough enrollment, and avoiding sending special education students out of the district, Superintendent David Gamberg said at the time.

Southold’s health insurance contributions will rise by just under 7 percent, less than they did during the 2016-17 year, and their contributions to teacher retirement funds will fall from 11.72 percent to 9.8 percent.

The proposed budget also sees the addition of three new sports teams — boys and girls spring track and field teams and a boys soccer team at the junior high school — as well as increased spending on programs at both the elementary and secondary schools, Mr. Gamberg said last month.

The board voted to adopt the budget 3-0. Members John Crean and Scott Latham weren’t in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I want to echo the superintendent and thank Mr. Scheid and the administration, especially when some of the administration is so new,” board president Paulette Ofrias said. “Especially with the construction project [a $9.8 million bond approved by voters in December 2015], I know that there was a lot more work than was indicated, so the gratitude of the board is extended.”

Photo caption: Southold Superintendent David Gamberg. (Credit: Nicole Smith)