In another marathon session that lasted into the early morning hours, the Northport BOE voted 8-1 to approve a $153.9 million budget for 2012-2013 which reflects a 1.83 percent budget-to-budget increase over last year. The tax levy is 1.68 percent, and Assistant Superintendent of Business Kathleen Molander said the estimated tax rate for residents would be 1.72 percent. That translates to $165.24 per $100 of assessed value.
Trustee Joe Sabia, who had advocated throughout the entire budget process for a zero percent increase, cast the dissenting vote.
The Board had originally requested that Superintendent Marylou McDermott present a budget with a two percent increase, but shaved that amount down Monday night to the 1.68 in response to comments from residents at previous meetings. The new number was achieved through use of an additional $225,000 in reserves plus a $75,000 reduction in expenditures which McDermott will recommend to the Board.
Although a compromise was reached, it was not achieved easily. Trustee Tammie Topel, who also had been in favor of a zero percent increase, wanted to see more reductions on the expenditure side, even if they were small. She questioned the $225,000 increase to approximately $750,000 for unanticipated staffing needs, as well as a $189,000 rise in equipment costs for new desks and tables throughout the district. Molander explained that the suggested equipment increase was the result of agreement among all the principals who are currently working with tables and desks that are sometimes 30 or more years old.
Topel also brought up the amount of money that is spent on printing and mailing the district calendar. UTN President Antoinette Blanck said she had heard many comments and complaints from parents last year who were upset to see that the calendar contains color photos.
Trustee Julia Binger was concerned about dipping more into the restricted reserves on top of the $2.2 million that was already included. Trustee Lori McCue agreed, noting that the decrease in the tax levy only amounted to approximately $14 more for households assessed at 3800.
Sabia disagreed, noting that valuation rates aren't known yet and that any amount of money, even a small amount, could be helpful to residents given the current economic climate.
After the budget discussion, the Board voted unanimously to approve a second proposition to spend a maximum of $845,000 from its two Capital Reserve funds: $202,573 from the Capital Reserve Fund established in 1997 and $642,427 from the Reserve established in 2008 for the replacement of the univents at East Northport and Northport Middle Schools; and the replacement of two boilers with gas conversion and associated mechanical systems at Bellerose Avenue Elementary School.
Residents will have another opportunity to voice their opinions on the budget at a public hearing on Monday, May 7 at the William Brosnan School Cafeteria.