$111.8 mil spending plan would see big tax increase

Spending in the Riverhead School District would increase by 3.28 percent or more than $3 million under superintendent Nancy Carney’s proposed $111.8 million 2011-12 budget.

However, the tax levy would go up 5.7 percent for 2011-12, that’s $5.2 million, under the proposed budget, because Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed cutting $2.9 million in state aid to the school district, officials said. The governor’s proposal is part of a plan to eliminate a $10 billion state deficit.

What those numbers translate to in terms of the tax rate depends on still-unknown outside forces, including final state aid numbers.

The preliminary budget was unveiled during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Ms. Carney said the budget includes spending cuts, but did not specify where they would come from. She said the district is considering cutting some extracurricular activities, some sports programs, instituting larger class sizes and staff cuts, among other things.

“We have no choice but to make the cuts as if [state aid reductions] are going to happen,” said school board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse during the meeting.

Ms. Carney said had the budget simply rolled over all existing costs, and factored in cost of living increases and increases in contractual issues like salaries, the increase would have been around seven percent.

Much of the spending increase comes from money the school district must contribute to the retirement funds of past employees, which will rise $2.2 million for the 2011-012 school year.

The school board has about three months to adopt a budget which will be presented to the community for a vote on May 17.

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