Historically low voter turnout as all five school budgets pass

In a year with no school board races and minimal spending increases, North Fork voter turnout reached unprecedented lows Tuesday. 

Only 1,617 residents cast a ballot in the five school budget votes, the smallest turnout since 1986. Tuesday’s vote count reflects a 61 percent dropoff from a decade ago, when in 2007 more than 4,000 residents showed up at the polls.

The result of this historic dropoff: all five spending plans were approved by wide margins.

“While we are always happy to have our budgets pass, we were concerned about voter turnout with a 0 percent tax levy increase and uncontested election,” said Mattituck-Cutchogue superintendent Anne Smith. “I think we saw that come true because two years ago when we didn’t have a contested election, we had 100 more votes than this year. Sometimes people may think the vote was not needed.”

Even in New Suffolk, where an estimated 6.5 percent tax levy increase forced administrators to pierce the state property tax cap, turnout dipped more than 30 percent and the budget was approved by 79 percent of voters.

Collectively, 78 percent of area residents who voted Tuesday cast a yes vote for their school spending plan. Only Mattituck — at a still robust 74 percent — failed to gain approval from more than three quarters of its voters.

For the Greenport School District, the favorable turnout also meant approval of a referendum to establish a $750,000 capital reserve, enabling the district to transfer budget surplus into a fund for specific capital improvements over the next 10 years. Administrators said the reserve fund will enable the district to save money by avoiding borrowing.

“I’m very grateful and extremely appreciative of the community’s support,” said superintendent David Gamberg. “Particularly for the forward thinking of establishing the capital reserve that will pay back dividends well into the future in terms of sustainable infrastructure in the building. It will ensure that we maintain and preserve the investment in the community of Greenport.”

Incumbents ran unopposed in all five school board elections.

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Proposed budget: $18,365,500

YES 235
NO 55

Referendum: Establish a $750,000 capital reserve fund

YES 232
NO 55

Board of Education

Kirsten Droskoski 237


Proposed budget: $5,704,425

YES 116
NO 25

Board of Education

Jeffrey Demarest 121
Janice Caufield 120


Proposed budget: $40,765,316

YES 414
NO 147

Board of Education

Brian Mealy 486
Charles Anderson 471


Proposed budget: $29,440,000

YES 451
NO 108

Library proposition

YES 469
NO 91

Board of Education

Scott Latham 491
Brian Tobin 480


Proposed budget: $1,110,701.32

YES 52
NO 14

Board of Education

Tony Dill 59