Riverhead schools budget heads to voters

Riverhead School District residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 18, to vote on a $108 million proposed school budget for 2010-11 that would increase spending 1.99 percent and the amount to be raised by taxes 2.57 percent. Voting will take place in the Riverhead High School gym on Harrison Avenue between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

School officials said they were unable to estimate the budget’s impact on tax rates because the district is split among three towns. The state’s equalization rates for their assessed values vary and they won’t become available until fall. In the past two years, differences in the equalization rate have resulted in drastically higher tax rates in the Southampton Town portion of the district than in the Riverhead or Brookhaven town portions.

The district is expecting enrollment to increase by 3.36 percent, from 4,727 to 4,886, according to the district’s property tax report card, which it files with the state.


The proposed budget maintains all programs, according to assistant superintendent for business Michael Ivanoff, who gave a brief budget presentation at Tuesday’s school board meeting. They include academics, athletics, clubs, after-school help, summer school, music and arts programs and the STAR Academy, he said.

Program costs, which include instructional expenses, interscholastic sports and transportation, make up 79 percent of the budget, with administrative costs comprising 10 percent and capital costs, including debt service, making up the other 11 percent, according to Mr. Ivanoff.

Property taxes will pay for 77 percent of the proposed budget, with state aid estimated to cover 17 percent, or $18.6 million. That figure is an estimate because the state has yet to finalize its budget.

“Unfortunately, we’re more than 40 days beyond the state’s requirement to have its budget adopted on April 1,” Mr. Ivanoff said. “As of now, we’re projecting the original amount that Governor Paterson proposed in January, which is about $1.5 million less than what we should have gotten under different formulas.”

Traditionally, the numbers proposed in the governor’s budget are much lower than the final numbers, officials have said in the past.

Proposition Two

In addition to the operating budget, residents will vote May 18 on a proposition to authorize the expenditure of $1.34 million in capital reserve funds for an elevator and new roof at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School.

“There is no extra cost to taxpayers,” Mr. Ivanoff said. That’s because voters already approved the creation of the capital reserve fund several years ago, but a separate referendum is needed for anyspecific use of that money.

“The roof is extremely in need of replacement,” Mr. Ivanoff said. “It’s probably 15 years past its warranty and 20 years beyond its useful life.”

The elevator is required by federal Americans with Disability Act regulations, he said.

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