Budgets pass in all six school districts holding revotes
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Voters in six school districts -- Manhasset, North Babylon, Baldwin, East Quogue, Sachem and South Country -- passed their school budgets a month after rejecting proposals to override the state cap on their tax levies.
North Babylon and Manhasset had been trying again to pierce their respective tax-cap limits, and their budgets. At least 60 percent of voters had to approve those budgets.
North Babylon's results are significant because the district offered the same budget voters had dismissed last month, but 64 percent of voters accepted it this time. Manhasset's tax-cap-overriding budget passed with nearly 72 percent of the votes.
Here are details for each district:
Baldwin 2,397 yes, 860 no. Budget of $118,251,507 means a 3.14 percent tax-levy increase, equal to the district's tax-cap limit. Approval needed by 50 percent of those voting.
East Quogue 698 yes, 261 no. Budget of $22,410,732 means a 2.45 percent tax-levy increase, just under the district's 2.46 percent tax-cap limit. Approval was needed by 50 percent of those voting.
Manhasset 3,706 yes, 1,451 no. Budget of $86,176,419 means a 1.97 percent tax-levy increase, exceeding the district's 0.15 percent tax-cap limit. Approval was needed by 60 percent of those voting.
North Babylon 2,369 yes, 1,334 no. Budget of $112,010,068 means a 3.4 percent tax-levy increase, exceeding the district's 2.65 percent tax-cap limit. Approval was needed by 60 percent of those voting.
Sachem 8,644 yes, 3,497 no. Budget of $286,936,993 means a 3.14 percent tax-levy increase, equal to the district's tax-cap limit. Passed by more than 71 percent of the voters. Approval was needed by 50 percent of voters.
South Country 2006 yes, 899 no. Budget of $118,727,666 means a 0.95 percent tax-levy increase, just within the district's 0.98 percent tax-cap limit. Received 69.05 percent approval. Approval was needed by 50 percent of those voting.
Any district where budgets are rejected a second time must go to a zero percent tax-levy increase -- usually called a contingency, or austerity, budget.
Tax-levy limits differ by district. While a 2 percent growth factor is used in calculating each district's tax cap, other factors, such as exemptions for school-renovation costs, mean that the tax-levy limit for individual districts varies widely.
"After the first vote in May, they rallied -- the parents, PTA, the whole community -- rallied behind" the budget, said North Babylon Superintendent Patricia Godek.
"The first time it failed because of complacency. This time they came out, 64 percent of the vote was yes. The full [vote] count was at least 1,100 more than the May election. It's overwhelming. I have to thank the people of North Babylon. The community was wonderful. I think we made history."
Manhasset Superintendent Charles Cardillo said earlier Tuesday afternoon that the polls had been busy.
"We are experiencing a large voter turnout," he said. "Hopefully, there seems to be an energized response to our revised budget and, hopefully, we will be able to achieve the 60 percent supermajority."
The Baldwin, East Quogue, Sachem and South Country districts all proposed spending plans with tax-levy increases that were equal to or less than their tax-cap limits. Budgets in those districts needed 50 percent approval of those voting.
In North Babylon, the district was asking for a 3.4 percent tax-levy increase, above its cap of 2.65 percent, the same level as the budget that failed on May 21. School taxes on the average single-family home would increase an estimated 3.88 percent, from $6,562.39 to $6,816.88.
The proposed $112,010,068 budget preserves all academics, athletics, fine and performing arts, and extracurricular activities. If rejected by voters, an austerity budget would mean elimination of all sports teams, including varsity and junior varsity, as well as the loss of all extracurricular activities, district officials have said.
A steady stream of residents voted at Belmont Elementary School Tuesday. Nancy Cusumano, 40, took photos of her 4-year-old twin sons, Matthew and Jason, at the entrance to the polling place. She supports the budget "for the future of my children," she said. She also is a fourth-grade teacher in the district.
But one longtime resident who declined to give his name disapproved of the revised spending plan.
"I am a senior citizen and the taxes keep going up and up," said the 76-year-old resident.
In Manhasset, the other district where the budget had to get 60 percent approval, voters approved a 2013-14 spending plan of $86,176,419. That means a 1.97 percent tax-levy increase, above the district's cap of 0.15 percent.
Budgets in Baldwin and Sachem both sought a 3.14 percent rise -- equal to their tax-levy limits -- and South Country sought a 0.95 percent increase, just below its 0.98 percent limit, officials said.
"I'm confident that the community is supporting this budget and that we'll be able to move ahead," South Country Superintendent Howard Koenig said earlier in the day.
Sachem faced the loss of 229 faculty and staff, and possible consolidation or closure of schools under the revised budget, the district has said.
East Quogue's spending plan asked for a 2.45 percent tax-levy increase, just below its 2.46 percent tax-levy limit.
With Lauren R. Harrison, John Hildebrand and Nicholas Spangler