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Forum tonight on Huntington school budget

The Huntington School Board budget work session at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Jack Abrams School in Huntington Station gives the public a forum to offer ideas and opinions about the 2011-12 budget.

“Tonight’s meeting is intended more as an open forum for us to get feedback from the community on our budget,” School Board president Bill Dwyer said.

Last week, the board advised its administrators to develop a draft budget proposal for 2011-12 with an increase of 3.5 percent. In December, the board told the administration to consider using a 2 percent property tax hike in response to what was then Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo’s push for state lawmakers to approve a 2 percent cap on yearly increases in property taxes by school districts and other local governments.

In a board meeting last week, district superintendent John Finello said a budget with a 2 percent tax cap would be $107.3 million. The current budget is $108,786,539. During a presentation at last week’s meeting, Finello and David Grackin, assistant superintendent of finance and management services, presented an overview of issues that go into creating a budget, including use of reserves, fund balances and assessed values of homes.

“The community has had a week to digest all the information presented last week and can now tell us how they feel,” Dwyer said. “We’re just trying to open up the process and solicit feedback from the community on what they have learned to date.

The draft budget is set to be presented at the March 28 board meeting.

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