Three Long Island school districts won approval of school budgets in revotes Tuesday, while a fourth took a drubbing in its efforts to push through the same fiscal plan rejected by voters in May.
Bridgehampton and Wantagh, which had both trimmed their fiscal requests, obtained "supermajority" voter support for overrides of their state-assigned tax caps. Northport-East Northport stuck within its cap limit and won passage as well. Three Village, on the other hand, got smacked by voters as it tried to stick with its original budget, while also attempting a tax override.
Bridgehampton produced 181 "yes" ballots and 120 "no" ballots, or a majority of 60.13%, according to district officials. That was just over the 60% minimum required under state law for a cap override.
"We are very blessed and fortunate to win the 60% majority — we won by a hair," said Bridgehampton's school board president, Ronald White. He added that district trustees would strive in coming months to convince more taxpayers that "the money's being spent wisely."
Wantagh approved its spending plan by a margin of 2,950 to 1,213.
"We'd like to thank the Wantagh community for its support of our schools — it's been a challenging year," said John McNamara, the Wantagh superintendent.
Northport-East Northport's school budget passed with 2,657 "yes" ballots and 1,119 "no." The district was forced to hold a revote, after its initial budget lost amid widespread resistance to a district decision to close two elementary schools in the fall.
In contrast, Three Village's spending plan tallied 3,211 voters opposed and 2,027 in favor.
"I think the community is ready to be involved in the district and its finances," said Carmine Inserra, a local business leader who had spoken out against Three Village's spending practices at two recent public hearings.
Specifically, Inserra had called for more involvement by citizen volunteers in the district's budget planning.
Three Village released a statement, declaring, "While disappointed in the defeat of the proposed budget, the district respects the voice of the community and the voter response received at the polls."
Proposed budgets are for the school year, which starts July 1. Here are details of budgets on Tuesday’s ballots:
Bridgehampton: The district’s $20.6 million budget passed 181 to 120, according to local officials, and will raise spending 8.81%. The increase in the tax levy, which is total revenues raised through property taxation, was lowered last week to 6.49%. That exceeds the cap and won a 60.13% majority, just over the minimum required to pass.
Northport-East Northport: The district’s proposed $174.6 million budget has been trimmed slightly from the original. The revamped version includes a 1.12% spending increase and a zero tax change, which is within the district’s cap and needed only a simple majority to pass.
Three Village: The district’s defeated budget of $222.6 million remained unchanged from the first round of balloting, with a 1.75% spending hike and a 1.85% tax increase. The plan exceeded a state-imposed cap and the vote fell far short of the 60% majority needed to pass.
Tuesday's second vote requires the district to operate on a contingency budget that cuts spending by about $2.4 million. This could result in increased class sizes and reductions of elective courses, though local officials said any changes will be minimal.
Three Village said quirks in the cap system meant they would lose more revenue by staying within state limitations than by moving to contingency.
Wantagh: The district’s $82.7 million budget, which has been reduced from an original $83.5 million plan, will raise spending 1.88% and taxes 1.96%. That exceeds the tax cap and won approval by more than 70% of voters, beyond the 60% required for an override.
To win support in the second round of voting, Wantagh cut 29 positions from its current staff, including administrators and teachers.