The Northport school board will vote Thursday on the finalized budget that it will send to voters on June 15.
The new proposal of $174.69 million, with a zero tax increase for residents, is about $14,000 less than the one rejected by voters on May 18 and is bolstered by $1 million in state relief related to the loss of tax revenues from the power plant in Northport. State Sen. Jim Gaughran notified the district Wednesday about the extra funds.
But even that good news about the extra revenue was contentious. In a letter to the community posted Friday on the school district website, Superintendent Robert Banzer disputed a social media post that read, “The district was aware that it would be receiving an additional $1 million in revenue prior to the May vote and did not disclose it to the community.”
Banzer wrote that “Following the issuance of that letter, the district became aware of some completely inaccurate information posted on social media. The information falsely states that the district was aware of additional revenue secured by Senator Gaughran for the benefit of Northport-East Northport School District and its taxpayers before the May vote. We firmly state that the district was not informed of the additional $1 million in State revenue until Wednesday” (May 26).
“The district did understand that there was a provision in the State budget providing relief to school
districts that have experienced significant financial hardship due to tax certiorari settlements. However, the amount of financial assistance in the State budget was unknown at the time of the May vote; the criteria for the allocation of those monies and when it would be provided was likewise unknown. Any payment of this financial assistance was subject to approval by the President of the Senate and the Director of the Budget. We reiterate that the district was unaware until Wednesday afternoon of the award of monies as a result of the State budget approved this Spring.”
Earlier, voters rejected the budget of $174,704,748, with many complaining that while the district had cited savings from the decision to close two elementary schools, the budget still raised taxes.