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Port Jefferson school district residents reject $29.9M bond

Many residents criticized aspects of the plan — such as lights and synthetic turf for an athletic field — amid uncertainty over future LIPA tax payments.

Port Jefferson school Superintendent Paul Casciano discusses the

Port Jefferson school Superintendent Paul Casciano discusses the district's $29.9 million bond proposition at an informational meeting Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Carl MacGowan

Port Jefferson school district residents Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a $29.9 million bond proposition by a roughly 4-to-1 margin.

The proposition — which would have funded improvements to schools, administrative offices and sports facilities — garnered only 374 votes, while 1,355 residents voted against the plan.

In an email, Superintendent Paul Casciano said he was “disappointed,” adding district officials and the board of education “will discuss the matter further at subsequent meetings. The safety, security and compliance concerns that we were attempting to address through the projects in the capital bond still exist and need attention.”

If the bond had been approved, taxes on the average home would have risen about 5.9 percent, district officials have said.

Some residents had said the vote should have been canceled amid uncertainty over future Long Island Power Authority tax payments. LIPA officials have said the Port Jefferson power plant has been overtaxed and are seeking to reduce payments to the school district and other Port Jefferson taxing districts.

Rene Tidwell, who voted against the bond, said she and other residents objected to proposed upgrades that seemed unnecessary, such as sports field lighting that would have cost $1.6 million. Questions about LIPA’s tax payments also influenced the votes of many residents, she said.

“I think that the results demonstrated that our community is taking more transparency and more fiscal responsibility from the administration and the board of education,” Tidwell said. “With that said, I think as a community we’re eager to roll up our sleeves and help them address urgent compliance issues.”

Tidwell said a less expensive bond focused on repairing buildings would have a better chance of being approved by voters.

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