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Oysterponds puts same budget to voters

The Tuckahoe School in Southampton. (Nov. 1, 2002)

The Tuckahoe School in Southampton. (Nov. 1, 2002) Credit: Doug Kuntz

The Oysterponds school board Tuesday night voted to ask residents of the tiny North Fork district to reconsider the $5.4 million budget proposal they rejected last week.

The spending plan, which drew 192 yes votes and 253 no votes on May 15 was not changed during a school board meeting in Orient Tuesday night. A second vote on the budget will be held June 19.

Board members voted unanimously to drop a plan to give students in grades 7 to 12 a choice of which school they wanted to attend.

School officials said community opposition to the school choice plan led to the budget's defeat.

"It seems to be the reason people were saying no" to the budget, school board president Deborah Dumont said. "One can only assume that was the main issue."

Oysterponds students in grades 7-12 now attend Greenport High School. The district has about 160 students, including 80 in its elementary school and 80 enrolled at Greenport. Officials had proposed giving students the option of attending Mattituck High School.

The proposed budget is 4.85 percent lower than the current school year's $5.6 million budget. If the budget passes, taxes on the average home would go up 3.37 percent, from $2,075 to $2,145.

If the budget fails, the current $4.9 million tax levy would remain in effect next year and could not be increased. The proposed budget calls for a 2.5 percent tax levy increase.

In Tuckahoe, school officials have trimmed more than $150,000 from the budget plan defeated last week, and will hold a vote next month on a new proposal.

The revised budget for the 2012-13 school year calls for spending $17,654,252 -- 0.9 percent less than the $17,811,479 spending plan that was defeated May 15, 275-228. .

The new proposal calls for a 0.99 percent increase in the district's tax levy, from $15,815,005 to $15,971,573. The defeated budget had called for a tax-levy hike of 1.99 percent.

The vote on the revised budget, which the school board adopted Monday night, is set for June 19 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Tuckahoe School, the district's only school.

Tuckahoe officials made $157,227 worth of cuts in transportation, equipment and supplies, maintenance and operations, business manager Keri Loughlin said Tuesday.

If voters approve the revised budget, any reduction in increased property taxes may be negated by declining property value assessments, Loughlin said. Because of the expected change in assessments, she could not provide an estimate of that possible tax increase.

"With the decline in assessments, we see an increase in the tax rate," Loughlin said. Assessments on properties in the district may drop as much as 5.5 percent, she said.

If the revised budget fails, the district's tax levy would be frozen at its current level.

The tiny district this year has 365 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Another 125 Tuckahoe students go on to high school in the Southampton and Westhampton Beach districts, and their home district pays tuition costs.

With Mitchell Freedman and John Hildebrand

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