May 10, 2006
East Hampton Town Schools: School District Budgets And Board Elections On Tap
Will Rogers once said, "Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do." Clearly the homespun humorist wasn't versed in the power of the school district budget vote, which many see as the vehicle through which they can most directly effect their own destinies. Next Tuesday, school district residents across the state will have a shot at charting the course as they cast ballots for district budgets and board members.
Below, a quick look at candidates and bottom lines:
There's just one seat up for grabs in the Amagansett school district and just one candidate, Mary Lownes, an incumbent, looking to grab it. Reflecting a 3.68% increase over last year, total proposed spending is $6.7 million. The proposed estimated tax rate of $22.54 per $100 of assessed valuation is just 1.49% more than last year's $22.21 per $100.
Laura Anker Grossman and Steve Talmage are looking to retain their seats on the school board. Given no one's come out to oppose them, the pair is a shoo-in.
The district is looking at a total budget of $50.7 million, up 9.49% over last year's total. The tax rate grows by 11.56% to $42.13 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from $37.76.
The Lighthouse District has the distinction this year of the only contested race for school board. John Lycke is challenging Patty Leber for the chance to shape school policy.
On the fiscal front, the district has a second distinction with the largest proposed total budget increase, 13.12%. The bottom line increases from $11.9 million to $13.5 million. The tax rate grows from $35.60 per $100 of assessed valuation to $39.11 per $100, a 9.87% increase.
Incumbent Karen Rodriguez is running unopposed for the school board.
The district hopes to pass a $17,.7 million total budget, up 5.61% over last year. If voters say yes, the estimated tax rate would increase 3.85%, rising from $60.83 per $100 of assessed valuation to $63.17.
East Hampton's smallest school district continues the apparent "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy as far as school board races are concerned. Once again incumbents run unopposed. Iris Osborn and David Eagan are on the ballot. The total proposed budget of $2.1 million reflects an increase over last year's $2 million of 5.73%.
Estimated tax rates for district residents in the East Hampton Town side of the district will run $14.22 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from $13.73, for a 3.6% increase. Those living on the Southampton side see an increase from $0.148 per $100 to $0.154 per $100.
Ambrose Bierce, author of the diabolically cynical Devil's Dictionary, defined the vote as "the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." Father Theodore Hesburgh, the long-time president of the University of Notre Dame, took a different view. He said: "Voting is a civic sacrament." Whichever opinion resonates, the time to weigh in is Tuesday. Check with your district for polling times and places.