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May 18, 2016 11:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Voters Approve All School Budgets In Western Southampton Town

May 18, 2016 12:58 PM

Cheers filled the East Quogue Elementary School cafetorium on Tuesday night—and Superintendent and Principal Robert Long did an impromptu celebratory jig—as news spread that the district’s $23.8 million 2016-17 budget had received enough votes to successfully pierce the state’s cap on tax levy increases.

East Quogue was the only school district in western Southampton Town that attempted to pierce the cap, easily securing the 60-percent supermajority required by the state, with 810 votes in favor of the spending plan and only 339 opposing it. With 1,149 ballots cast, the district needed 689 votes for the budget to be approved.

Voters in the five other western districts—Hampton Bays, Quogue, Westhampton Beach, Remsenburg-Speonk and Eastport South Manor—all signed off on their respective 2016-17 budgets. All school board incumbents, meanwhile, were reelected and will be joined on their respective boards by several newcomers.

“We appreciate and want to thank the community for coming out to vote,” Mr. Long said on Tuesday night, minutes after he did his little dance in the cafetorium. “We look forward to building education with them in the future.”

If voters had rejected the budget, East Quogue school officials would have had to cut roughly $450,000 from next year’s spending plan—a move that district officials said would have been devastating to both staffing and programming—and then put the budget up for a second vote. If that had happened and the budget were to be rejected a second time, the district would have had to make even more cuts.

East Quogue’s adopted spending plan carries a $21.8 million levy, an increase of roughly 5.8 percent over the current year’s $20.6 million levy.

In the district’s Board of Election race, incumbent Dianna Gobler maintained her seat, with 709 votes, and will be joined on the five-member board by newcomer Jessica Stalters, who garnered 606 votes. Former Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney missed taking the second seat by a half dozen votes, finishing with 600.

In the neighboring Quogue School District, incumbents Lauren Battista and Barbara Sartorius were both reelected to full three-year terms on the five-person board, while newcomer Steve Failla won the third full term. Joseph Silva, who was appointed in April to the seat vacated by former member Anael Alston, finished fourth and will get to complete the remaining two years of Dr. Alston’s unfinished term. Ms. Battista finished with 135 votes, Ms. Sartorius with 118, Mr. Failla with 83, and Mr. Silva with 79.

Meredith Murray and John Mensch, who had also thrown their hats into the ring, came up short in their respective board bids. Ms. Murray received 73 votes, while Mr. Mensch finished with 51. Ruby Heller received the lone write-in vote.

Quogue voters also approved their district’s $7.8 million 2016-17 budget, 153-18. Proposition 2, which authorizes the School Board to enter a three-year agreement with the Westhampton Beach School District, allowing Quogue to continue sending its middle and high school students there, 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.

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

The Hampton Bays School District’s nearly $50 million budget, which increases spending by 1.3 percent, was approved, 721-230. Under the budget, the district is adding two special education teachers at the high school and a clerical receptionist for the district office. The district will levy $44.2 million in taxes next year, an increase of roughly 1 percent.

Residents also handily approved a proposition that will set aside up to $300,000 to finance various small projects in the district’s three schools, including upgrades to the high school library and bathroom upgrades in the elementary school. The motion passed, 760-190.

Incumbents Richard Joslin and Kevin Springer, who were running uncontested, will retain their seats on the board after receiving 838 and 668 votes, respectively.

In Eastport South Manor, the $90.6 million budget passed with 957 in favor and 258 opposed. The plan decreases overall spending by $1.9 million. The budget, which does not pierce the tax levy cap, maintains all current programming and carries a $51.5 million tax levy. Proposition 2 for library services also passed, 1,015-193.

In the Board of Education race, all three incumbents retained their seats. Karen Kesnig received 681 votes, Marie Brown finished with 725 votes, and Nicholas Vero took home 593 votes. Challengers Jeffrey Goldhammer and Larry Brown Jr. came up short in their bids, receiving 485 and 423 votes, respectively.

In Westhampton Beach, the $55 million budget was easily approved, 388-79. The budget maintains all of the district’s programs and staffing, and represents an $83,914 increase in spending. The district tax levy will also increase by 0.70 percent, as it needs to collect $28.3 million in taxes next year.

Proposition 2, for the Westhampton Free Library’s $2.84 million budget for next year, also passed, 303-162. Board of Education incumbent George Kast received 397 votes in an uncontested race for a lone seat on the board.

In Remsenburg-Speonk, voters easily approved their district’s $13.2 million budget which increases spending by only about $4,000. It passed 180-38. The budget maintains all current district programming and staffing levels with the exception of one sixth grade teacher position. That educator will be shuffled to fill the spot now occupied by a leave replacement teacher. The budget will levy $11.6 million in taxes next year, an increase of 1.9 percent.

As part of the budget, the district authorized switching from Adelwerth Bus Company in Eastport to Coastal Charters in Ronkonkoma, a change that saved the district an estimated $100,000. At the same time, the library services contract for the school was approved, 196-22.

Both individuals seeking seats on the district’s Board of Education were uncontested in their bids. Incumbent John Barry received 182 votes, while newcomer Kevin Toolan finished with 175 votes.

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TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2016 On The Beach Blog

East Quogue voters reject Junior Heaney
Former Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick Heaney managed to fool 600 voters in the East Quogue School District in his try for a seat on the Board of Education, but still finished up the track to incumbent Dianna Gobler (709 votes) and newcomer Jessica Stalters (606 votes).

Almost 1150 district residents turned out to deny Heaney, and pass a $23.8 million budget with more than 70% of the vote.

By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on May 20, 16 9:22 AM