Montauk School Taxes Will Decrease

When the Montauk School Board meets on Tuesday it is expected to approve the district’s proposed 2016-17 budget in the amount of $18.9 million, a decrease of $49,000 or .08 percent from the current year’s budget. As a result, the total amount to be raised by taxes will show a small decrease.

The board held weekly budget workshops through the month of March. Unlike previous years, the budget approved for balloting in May is the same as the one handed out at the beginning of the month. This year’s tax rate, $544.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value, will decrease by .095 percent.

 When the board received the initial budget figures, they commended Jack Perna, the district superintendent, and Maura Mirras, the district treasurer. Diane Hausman, the school board president, said in an email this week that the board is proud of their conscientious efforts. She said they put in endless hours reviewing and tweaking the budget to make sure the education of the students was not compromised while also keeping in mind the board’s fiduciary responsibility to the community at large.

However, Ms. Hausman said the decrease in the budget comes from changes in the number of students sent to East Hampton High School and that there will not be a decrease when the 2017-18 budget is written. There are 120 high school students at a cost of $24,539 each, and 10 special education students at $68,125 per student being sent out of the district this year. With 26 students to graduate in June and a freshman group of 40 expected to enter in September, the tuition will greatly increase and so will the next budget.

Looking at the budget for the coming year, Mr. Perna commended the teachers for limiting expenses. He also noted that there were no cuts in clubs or staff. The only problems encountered during the budgeting process were the continuing teachers’ protest that they have been working since July without a contract.

In an email on Tuesday, the superintendent wrote that the school’s negotiating team, Mr. Perna and the attorney William Cullen, had received the teachers’ response to the district’s last proposal. He said it had been discussed at the board’s last executive session and that a meeting with the two negotiating teams will be scheduled within two weeks, or as soon as all parties can get together.

Mr. Perna pointed out that an earlier article about the teachers’ complaints had stated incorrectly that he would accept a salary freeze next year as he has this year. That is not the case.

Anticipating the annual meeting, to be held on May 17 from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school gym, it was reported that Patti Leber’s five-year term on the board is up this year and that she is running for re-election. Another seat is open for the three years left in Jason Biondo’s term since he resigned in January. Two people have picked up petitions that require 25 signatures to run for the board. The are available in the school office, and the deadline to turn them in is April 18.