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New Suffolk looks to pierce tax levy cap due to increased enrollment

Next month, residents in the New Suffolk school district will be asked to approve a $1.1 million budget that attempts to pierce the tax levy cap with a 6 percent increase.

That amount equals a $25,000 spending increase and is nearly double the district’s allowable tax levy limit of 3.4 percent, school board president Tony Dill said, noting that six additional students have moved into the district.

New Suffolk passed a budget in 2012 that pieced the state-mandated tax levy cap, which required 60 percent voter approval.

“Normally speaking, we get one or two students over the course of a summer — this time it was a total of six,” Mr. Dill said.

The elementary school district sends its secondary students to Southold High School and four students are expected to enroll there for the next school year, he said.

Additionally, two English Language Learner elementary students have moved into the district, which is paying tuition for them to attend school in Southold since New Suffolk doesn’t have the resources to educate them.

“If we didn’t have to tuition out those two elementary students, we’d save $40,000,” Mr. Dill said. “We’d be under the cap at that point without doing anything else. Teaching those kids in our school as opposed to sending them to Southold Elementary School, we do that and we could not only stay under the cap, but run a bit of a surplus.”

He added that two teachers in the district are being certified to teach non-English-speaking students in an effort to help reduce future tuition costs and noted that the tentative budget maintains programs.

“The idea that we have to break the cap is something we are really reluctant to do,” Mr. Dill said. “We don’t feel good about it at all. We’re kind of stuck between either staying within the cap and running another big deficit and seeing the surplus go down once again, or asking for money so we can hopefully stabilize going forward.”

The budget vote is May 16.

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