Riverhead budget proposal: $121.2 million

05/20/2014 8:00 AM |

RHS21221

Riverhead school district taxpayers will weigh in on more than just a hotly contested school board race this Tuesday.

In addition to the five-candidate election, the district has proposed a $121.2 million budget for 2014-15. Two propositions will also appear on the ballot. 

rivbudgetThe proposed spending plan carries a tax levy hike of 2 percent and the total amount raised from taxes would increase $1.8 million over the current school year to $93.5 million. The proposed levy is about $300,000 below the maximum amount allowed under the state property tax cap.

The district applied about $368,000 of increased state aid to reduce the property tax cap from the 2.4 percent proposed in superintendent Nancy Carney’s initial budget.

“We’re in a good place going into the 2014-15 school year,” the superintendent said. “I appreciate all the work the staff has done in the district, being very fiscally responsible and trying to present a budget that is very fair to the taxpayers, as well as preserving our programs.”

Spending is projected to increase by about $3.68 million if the proposal is approved, a 3.13 percent hike over the current year.

Instruction and support expenses would increase 3.23 percent to more than $38 million under the proposal, Ms. Carney said.

The district will also see expenses for Riverhead Charter School tuition increase by more than 18 percent to about $2.5 million next school year. That spike occurred because more students from the district enrolled in the charter school after it received approval in March to expand its K-6 program through eighth grade.

Other expenses in the 2014-15 budget include the district’s first debt service payment on the 2011 voter-approved capital improvement bond, which is due next fiscal year and is expected to cost about $2.8 million, the superintendent said.

In addition to voting on the budget, residents will also be asked to weigh in on two ballot propositions. The first proposes issuing a $3.98 million bond for bus purchases.

Ms. Carney has said that if the measure is approved, the district will purchase about 35 large propane-powered buses and five handicapped-accessible vans over a five-year span.

In 2007, district voters authorized a program to purchase school buses each year, retiring old vehicles in the process. That five-year program has now ended and the related funds have been spent, Ms. Carney said.

The second ballot proposition would grant an easement to Long Island Head Start. Ms. Carney said the district sold a piece of land at Phillips Avenue School in Riverside to Head Start back in 1994 for a token fee of about $10. However, she said, during recent renovation work at Phillips Avenue, the county health department discovered that the land transfer was “never formalized” and needs to be completed before final permits can be issued for a new sanitary system at the school.

jennifer@timesreview.com