Featured Story

SWR’s preliminary $74.8M budget to stay under tax levy limit

The Shoreham-Wading River school district won’t be piercing its tax levy limit for next year’s budget, according to preliminary information provided at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The district’s $74.8 million spending plan will preserve existing programs while also expanding support for several new clubs, said assistant superintendent Glen Arcuri. New clubs at the school include a debate team, a robotics club, pep band, digital media club and a suicide awareness group.

Average class sizes are expected to increase or decrease by a single student, depending on grade level. One line in the budget will fund irrigation installation and repairs at Miller Avenue School and Wading River Elementary School, as well as work on the middle school track and a new greenhouse.

In total, the tax levy — the total amount collected by the district — will rise by 3.9 percent, which is within the district’s allowable tax levy increase due to exemptions.

“I pound this message home as often as possible,” Mr. Arcuri said. “The perception is we’re trying to pierce.” The budget will require a simple majority to pass.

However, the 2017-18 budget will require using state aid to cover a shortfall caused by a drop in payments from the J-Power plant on the Long Island Power Authority property. While the allocation for the district came in at $1.695 million last year, next year’s will be reduced to just $852,000.

Mr. Arcuri said the district is attempting to renegotiate the specifics of the deal, but in the meantime, the board was forced to accept the reduced payment or risk losing the entire fund.

“We could do nothing about it,” said board member Robert Rose.

“The board took the only choice possible,” Mr. Arcuri added.

This year’s budget vote will also include a separate proposition to set up a special reserve fund to pay for school repairs. This “capital reserve fund” would max out at $7.5 million and is expected to be used for roughly a decade, if approved.

The reserve could be stocked with funds leftover from previous budgets, money that is earmarked in those budgets, or through state aid. Once set aside in the fund, money for capital improvements couldn’t be spent without further voter approval.

Mr. Arcuri said the fund would also help the district combine its finances across different reserves toward a single, clearly stated purpose.

Photo caption: SWR assistant superintendent Glen Arcuri speaks at Tuesday’s meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

[email protected]