members from the CAC met at the Bridgehampton School with members of the school administartion and the school board to hear a presentation on the economic status of the school and the upcoming school budget . Dr. Lois Favre the school superintendent , (an also a valued member of our CAC) gave a frank and open presentation of the school’s present and potential financial status. Her remarks
were added to by members of the school administration and the school board. Members of the CAC were grateful for the presentation and one member suggested that past budget election results indicated there will be community support sufficient to pass the 2012-2013 budget as presented by the administration and the board.
During the past few years, as the economy declined, the school has suffered economically along with the rest of the country and state and local agencies. In spite of valiant attempts to curb expenses in all areas there remains a financial problem for the school. State program and staffing mandates, pension, health, salary requirements all contribute to a heavy demand upon the school’s financial resources. Programs have been slimmed down or cut, the sports program is already curtailed, the number of teachers and their required skills cannot be reduced. Transportation, family support, nutrition programs, building and ground maintenance, administrative costs and the constant demand for supplies continue to plague.
Financial relief is limited to increased tax revenues granted by state warranted limitations and by increased property assessment values in the school district. The state 2% cap on increased school operating budgets will not compensate for many future required expenses: for example – increases in healthcare insurance, pension requirements, fuel and maintenance costs. Employee salary levels and their increasing costs can be negotiated, but only to a minor degree, particularly when mandated staff levels cannot be expected to be meaningfully reduced. Hope for sufficient increased property valued taxes in Bridgehampton, derived from the hamlets’s already richly valued real estate, may be overly optimistic .There were a few suggestions from CAC members about other possible funding sources.
If the proposed school budget for next year is rejected by the voters, there will be no permitted increase in the budget from this year, regardless of uncontrollable future required expenses. There is a back-up, reserve fund of limited capital that can help to soften an approaching financial shortfall. The permitted 2 percent increase in the Bridgehampton tax levy is spoken for by current operating expenses. Dr. Favre indicated that this 2 percent cap can be misleading because certain capital expenses and retirement contribution expenses are not counted within the allowed increase . Those capital expenses and retirement contribution increases are exempt from the cap and will result in requiring in a more than 4 percent increase inrevenue from this year in the proposed next budget . Even with this increase there will be a probable $285,000 gap There appear to be limited possibilities for financial aid from outside sources. It may be possible for the 2 percent tax cap to be broken providing there is a 60 percent positive vote in favor of doing so in the upcoming budget election.