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May 17, 2016 9:22 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Tuckahoe Budget Fails To Pierce Cap; All Other East End School Budgets Pass

The East Quogue Board of Education celebrates successfully piercing the cap on Tuesday night. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
May 18, 2016 9:32 AM

UPDATE: Tuesday, 10:10 p.m.

Sagaponack School District residents unanimously approved the proposed $1,776,756 budget for the 2016-17 school year with 16 votes. The two propositions on the ballot also passed unanimously with 16 votes each. Proposition 2 authorizes the district to enter a one-year contract with the East Hampton School District to education Sagaponack students in preschool and grades four through six, and proposition 3 authorizes the district to enter into two contract agreements with the Sag Harbor School District: one one-year agreement to educate Sagaponack students in preschool and grades four through six, and one five-year agreement to educate Sagponack students from grades seven through 12.

In the School Board race, incumbent Cathy Hatgistavrou was elected to another three-year term on the three-member board, receiving all 16 votes. She ran unopposed.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 10 p.m.

Voters in Amagansett on Tuesday night gave the school district the super-majority support it needed to let it exceed the state-mandated tax cap with its 2016-17 operating budget. The $10,473,428 budget was approved with 121 'yes' votes and 70 'no' votes, a 63-percent margin of support. Two newcomers, Hank Muchnic and Kristen Peterson, were unopposed to fill two vacated seats on the school board. Ms. Muchnic received 139 votes, Ms. Peterson received 151.

The $55 million Westhampton Beach budget passed with 388 yes votes and 79 against. Proposition two, for the Westhampton Library budget also passed 303 to 162, while incumbent George Kast received 397 votes in the uncontested race.

In Eastport South Manor, the $90.6 million budget passed with 957 in favor and 258 opposed. Proposition 2 for library services also passed, 1,015 to 193. In the Board race, all three incumbents retained their seats on the board, with Karen Kesnig, 681 votes, Marie Brown, 725 votes, and Nicholas Vero, 593 votes. Jeffrey Goldhammer and Larry Brown Jr. came up short with 485 and 423 votes respectively.

The $27,630,067 Springs district budget was approved 314 to 127. A proposition asking voters to approve the district's purchase of a $121,000 new school bus was approved 289 to 147. Incumbent Adam Wilson lost his seat, with two newcomers winning the two seats on the ballot.

Mr. Wilson, who was seeking a second three-year term on the school board, received just 131 votes, while first-time challengers David Conlon and Amy Rivera received 335 and 333 respectively. Carole Campolo received one write-in vote.

In East Hampton, three incumbent school board members were reelected by broad margins. J.P. Foster got 416 votes, Wendy Geehreng 397, and Richard Wilson 362, while challenger Alison Anderson got 224.

District voters approved the $66,721,301 budget by a 5-to-1 margin, 440 to 86. The tax rate in the district is expected to increase by less than 1 percent.

In Montauk, the ballots brought some strange twists to the otherwise humdrum count. Patti Leber was officially uncontested in her quest for a sixth term on the board, and received 149 votes in her favor. Cynthia Ibrahim and Thomas Flight were challenging each other for the right to finish the final three years of Jason Biondo's 5-year term after he resigned earlier this year. Mr. Flight received 163 votes, Ms. Ibrahim just 53. But Ms. Ibrahim also received 27 write-in votes on the line for the full-term seat held by Ms. Leber. Mr. Flight received two write-ins on that line also, as did Nick Finazzo, Vaughn Cutillo, Dustin Lightcap and Vincent Biondo, who each received one write-in vote.

The district's spending forecast for 2016-17 called for a $18,978,163 budget, a $15,000 decrease over the current budget, which voters approved 184 to 34. Tax rates will rise less than 1 percent.

In Wainscott, William Babinski was unopposed and received 49 votes. The $3,036,916 budget was approved 40-0.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 9:50 p.m.

In the Sag Harbor School District, there was a good voter turnout, with close to 1,300 voters showing up. Voters approved a $38.8 million budget, 997-328. It represents a spending increase of $1,221,422, or 3.25 percent. The tax levy will increase $1,015,000, or 2.98 percent to $35,065,000. There were 45 absentee ballots.

Two incumbents, Susan Kinsella and Chris Tice, ran against newcomers Susan Lamontagne and Roxanne Briggs. Chris Tice was elected to the board with 738 votes and Ms. Lamontagne with 645 votes.

The Stella Maris proposition, which authorized the purchase and renovation of the building for $10.23 million, passed 736-595.

Voters in the Southampton School District approved the proposed $67.7 million budget, 609-394. Proposition 3, which would have authorized the School Board to to purchase the property at 300 Hampton Road to be used as a new district office was rejected, 575-418. Proposition 4, which authorizes the district to levy $400,311 from taxpayers to fund the Southampton Youth Association, passed with a 735-263 vote, and Proposition 5 which authorizes the district to fund the Southampton Historical Museum passed with a 670-322 vote.

In the School Board race, two seats were available for the taking, with five individuals vying for the seats. Coming out as victors were James McKenna with 612 votes and Anastasia Gavalas with 344. Jacqueline Robinson ended up with 339 votes, Tracey Koszalka had 267 and Donna Gagliardo ended with 188.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.

The East Quogue $23.8 million budget easily achieved the supermajority needed to pierce the state cap on Tuesday night, with 810 yes votes to 339 no. At the same time, the proposition to send tuition students to Westhampton Beach also passed, 1,035 yes to 112 no and the library proposition passed 939 to 205. In the Board of Election race, Dianna Gobler maintained her seat with 709 yes votes, and will be joined on the board by Jessica Stalters, who garnered 606 votes. Patrick “Skip” Heaney misses out with only 600 votes.

Hampton Bays taxpayers easily passed the $50 million budget with 721 voting yes and 230 voting no. Incumbents Richard Joslin and Kevin Springer, who were running uncontested, will retain their seats on the board with 838 and 668 votes respectively. At the same time, taxpayers approved repairs to the district schools 760-190.

The Remsenburg-Speonk budget also passed with 180 yes votes to 38 no. At the same time, the tuition contract with Westhampton Beach and Eastport South Manor schools passed 205-13, and the library services contract was approved 196 to 22. Both John Barry and Kevin Toolan will sit on the board with 182 and 175 votes respectively.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 9:10 p.m.

Voters in the Quogue School District approved the proposed $7.8 million budget, 153-18. Proposition 2, which authorizes the School Board to enter a three-year agreement with the Westhampton Beach School District to send students there in grades seven through 12, passed 165-6, and Proposition 3, which authorizes the district to levy $417,589 from taxpayers to fund the Quogue Library budget, passed as well with a 157-12 vote.

In the School Board race, newcomer Steve Failla was elected to the five-member board to serve out the remaining two years of Dr. Anael Alston’s vacated seat. Incumbents Lauren Battista, Barbara Sartorius and Joseph Silva were all reelected for additional three-year terms. Ms. Battista was elected with 135 votes, Ms. Sartorius with 118, Mr Failla with 83, and Mr. Silva with 79. Ruby Heller received the lone write-in vote.

“I’m excited about becoming part of the team and keeping Quogue great,” Mr. Failla said Tuesday night after the results were announced.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 9 p.m.

In Bridgehampton, voters approved the $13.8 million spending plan, 161-78, which successfully pierced the tax cap and increases spending by 7.49 percent. It had a 67.4 percent passing rate.

It is the second time the district has attempted to pierce the cap, as it failed two years ago the first time around. However, on a second attempt, the budget did pass.

Jennifer Vinski and Michael Gomberg both ran for seats on the board unopposed. Ms. Vinski received 215 votes and Mr. Gomberg received 189 votes.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.

Voters in the Tuckahoe School District failed to pass a budget that would have pierced the state tax levy cap. While a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the budget, 146-145, the spending plan failed to meet the 60-percent threshold to pass the budget. Proposition 2, to sign a five-year tuition deal with the Southampton School district, passed overwhelmingly, 209-81. Proposition 3 to fund the Southampton Youth Services passed, 197-94. And Proposition 4, to fund the Parrish Art Museum education program, passed 186-105.

ORIGINAL STORY:

East Hampton and Southampton town residents will head to the polls Tuesday to decide on the budgets for each of 16 school districts in the towns.

In total, four of the districts—East Quogue, Tuckahoe, Bridgehampton and Amagansett—are attempting to pierce the state mandated property tax levy cap, a move that will require approval from 60 percent of the districts' voters in order to pass. If any of the four districts fail to achieve the required supermajority, the district will have one more chance to pass either the same, or an amended spending plan in a few weeks. If that second budget also fails, the district will be forced to adopt a budget with zero increases, a move that will force mass program and staff cuts.

The remaining districts will require only a simple majority to pass.

Polls are open in East Quogue from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the elementary school. The district is proposing a $23.8 million budget, an increase of 3.48 percent over the current year's plan. There are also three candidates seeking two seats on the five-member board: Incumbent Dianna Gobler, Jessica Stalters and Patrick "Skip" Heaney. Board member Carrie Bender has opted not to seek another term.

Tuckahoe residents can vote at the elementary school from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the $19.5 million budget. This is the second time the district has attempted to pierce the cap, failing the first time several years ago. If approved, spending will increase by 2.3 percent. At the same time, longtime board member Dr. Daniel Crough is seeking another three-year term on the three member board.

The $13.8 million spending plan in Bridgehampton will also pierce the cap, and is the second time the one-school district has attempted to pierce the cap, after failing two years ago before eventually passing the same budget. The plan will increase spending by 7.49 percent. Board members Jennifer Vinski and Michael Gomberg are running unopposed. Polls are open from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school gym.

The proposed Amagansett spending plan is $10.5 million, which will increase spending by 0.34 percent. Newcomers Hank Muchnic and Kristen Peterson will replace Victoria Handy and Phelan Wolf, both who have opted not to seek reelection.

In Springs, spending will increase by 0.97 percent if the $27.6 million budget is approved. Voting will take place from 1 to 9 p.m. in the school library. Voters will also be asked to choose between three candidates for two open spaces on the five-member board: Incumbent Adam Wilson, and newcomers David Conlon and Amy Rivera.

Polls in East Hampton will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. at the East Hampton High School, where voters will be asked to select three candidates from a pool of four for the board. Incumbents James P. Foster, Wendy Geehreng and Richard Wilson are all being challenged by former board member Alison Anderson. The district is pitching a $66.7 million budget, an increase of 0.97 percent.

Montauk Board incumbent Patti Leber is hoping to retain her seat on the board, and is being challenged by Thomas Flight and Cynthia Ibrahim. There are two seats open. Polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Montauk School Gym. The proposed budget decreases spending by 0.08 percent, for a total $18.98 million budget.

The Wainscott budget will decrease spending by 0.90 percent for a total $3 million budget. William Babinski is also running unopposed for another three-year term for the board. Polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. at the school.

The Southampton School Board race is highly contested, with five candidates seeking two seats on the seven-member board. Donna Gagliardo, James McKenna, Jacqueline Robinson, Tracey Koszalka, and Anastasia Gavalas are all hoping to join the board. The proposed $67.7 million budget increases spending by 4.04 percent. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Intermediate School music room.

Four candidates are also running for two seats in Sag Harbor, where the district is pitching a $38.8 million budget that increases spending by 3.25 percent. Incumbents Susan Kinsella and Chris Tice are being challenged by Roxanne Briggs and Susan Lamontagne. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pierson Middle/High School gymnasium.

In Sagaponack, incumbent Cathy Hatgistavrou is running unopposed for another term on the board. The district has put forth a $1.8 million budget that increases spending by 0.24 percent.

The Quogue race will also be close, with six candidates looking for four open seats on the five-member board. Incumbents Lauren Battista, Barbara Sartorius and Joseph Silva are all being challenged by Steve Failla, John Mensch, and Meredith Murray. Voting on the school races will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. at Quogue School on Edgewood Road. Registered voters can also cast ballots on the district’s proposed $7.8 million budget for the 2016-17 school year.

Five people are seeking three seats for the Eastport South Manor board, which has posted a $90.6 million budget for next year. Newcomers Jeffrey Goldhammer and Larry Brown Jr. are looking to upset longtime board member Karen Kesnig, as well as fellow incumbents Marie Brown and Nicholas Vero.

Both Hampton Bays Board of Education President Richard Joslin and Vice President Kevin Springer are unopposed in their respective reelection bids. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., in the gymnasium of the Hampton Bays Middle School on Ponquogue Avenue. The $50 million budget increases spending by 1.3 percent.

Kevin Toolan will join the board in Remsenburg-Speonk after John Kerns opted not to seek reelection. He will be joined by incumbent John Barry, who is also seeking another term. The district is proposing a $13.2 million budget. Polls will be open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the elementary school.

Incumbent George R. Kast Jr. is uncontested in his first reelection bid to the Westhampton Beach Board of Education. Taxpayers can vote for him, and the $55 million budget from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., in the high school’s large group instruction room.

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Exercise your right to vote today!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 17, 16 9:26 AM
Why does this article only appear on voting day. Is it to make sure those who might vote no don't have enough notice to get to the poles? Why wasn't it published a week ago?
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on May 17, 16 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
True enough. Something could have appeared earlier. But in fairness, last weeks editorial was about the school budget and urging voters to get out and vote. Because of all the crap that has been going on it was particularly important to get the vote out. But again if you care than the onus is on us, and that includes knowing when the voting days are. I cared enough to go to the candidates debate to decide who I would vote for. I feel the Press dropped the ball on that one by not covering the event. ...more
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on May 17, 16 2:34 PM
evidently "BIRD" you live in a bubble.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 17, 16 2:26 PM
Nice to see the school board election was won by two qualified candidates who care about the school and don't have another "outside" agenda.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on May 17, 16 9:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
Proposition # 3 was defeated by a hefty margin, 575-418.
The taxpayers have spoken.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 17, 16 10:55 PM
It's a shame because it really seems like a good solution for the district. The current admin situation is absurd. I do think if Farina wasn't the face of that deal it would have passed.
By Dafsgirl (64), Southampton on May 18, 16 8:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
The BOE did not present their other options, preferring to only push this one idea. For example, they only had one appraisal. Whose appraisal was it? The sellers. First of all, any astute business person would have gotten at least two INDEPENDENT appraisals, and probably three since a large sum of public monies was involved. That alone, plus other issues, raised a red flag with the voters, as well it should have.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 19, 16 9:44 AM
The whole situation seemed very sketchy from a business & value stand point. 1. Not a lot of detail provided to the public. The numbers were too neatly aligned with the resources available for the project. 2. Why is the district placing themselves in a position to be a landlord to other businesses when their mission is public education? 3. A very large space to accommodate not a lot of personnel. 4. Maintenance needs will be enormous in the not too distant future.
By East End 2 (150), Southampton on May 19, 16 10:13 AM
Southampton, keep an eye on spending with McKenna on board now.
By 11953guest (47), southampton on May 17, 16 11:10 PM
Please elaborate.
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on May 18, 16 12:37 AM
First of all - we all know it's about the kids ! I guess the three most expensive golf courses will just never pay their fair amount of taxes so our small community is expected to pay their share. Oh, I did get the copy of the proposed budget in the mail , the day before voting , I guess they thought we could not digest actual numbers similar to the version provided by the Southampton budget.
By Jay Tuckahoe (7), Southampton on May 18, 16 10:18 PM
I have been told that there is a formula for taxation on golf courses.
According to my knowledgable source, the local courses comply.
Maybe you could get more info from the Tax Accessor's Office.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 28, 16 4:42 PM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island