On the May 18 ballot for the Wainscott School District, voters will see a $3,829,017 spending plan that stays within the state-mandated limit on tax-levy increases. The district's tax-cap compliance comes on the heels of two prior years of over-the-cap budgets.
David Eagan, the school board president, said the budget keeps the district's kindergarten-through-third-grade program "fully intact."
"We anticipate all classes going back to full-day, in-person teaching — adding back one and a half hours each day — in the new schoolhouse, which will allow us to return to our time-tested collaborative teaching model," Mr. Eagan said in an email to The Star.
The year-over-year spending increase is $124,686, or 3.37 percent. According to a line-item breakdown released by the district on Tuesday, almost a full week after the school board adopted it, Wainscott expects to spend less money on textbooks, equipment, and supplies, adding up to $11,350 in savings. The district will spend $20,877 more on maintenance and utilities, up to $143,687, which is a 17 percent increase.
Wainscott will spend about 3 percent more on general-education teachers' salaries, up to $280,841. Tuition to the East Hampton and Sag Harbor School Districts for students who age out of Wainscott will cost $50,715 more, up to $1.58 million. Costs for using the Sag Harbor School District to provide busing will drop by about $5,000, down to $271,000. However, employee benefit spending will rise by about $5,000, up to $220,000.
The district will offset spending by applying $350,000 of prior years' surplus money to the budget, which furthers another goal — spending down the balance of that surplus, which exceeded the 4-percent statutory cap on surplus money, which was an issue identified by the New York State comptroller's office in past audits.
With a proposed tax-levy increase of 2.08 percent, Wainscott only needs a simple majority of voter approval to pass its budget. The prior two years' cap-busting budgets "have allowed us to stay within this year's limited 2.08 percent effective tax cap," Mr. Eagan said. "However, since we are now operating with a greatly reduced fund balance . . . continued increases in both the number of tuition students and tuition rates payable by the district are likely to result in future above-the-tax-cap-levy increases."
For a Wainscott School family living in East Hampton Town, the tax rate will go from $182.78 up to $186.59 per $1,000 of a property's assessed value. A small number of district taxpayers who reside in Southampton Town will see their tax rate go from $10.24 up to $10.48 per thousand.
Wainscott will hold a budget hearing next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. To receive the meeting link, an email can be sent to Norma Bushman, the district clerk, at [email protected]. The budget vote will be held on May 18 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the schoolhouse.