After a long budget process stretching over many months and a spirited campaign for three seats on the Huntington School Board, the votes have finally been tabulated.
Huntington School District residents overwhelmingly approved the proposed budget and a pair of capital reserve fund propositions, re-elected Christine Biernacki and Thomas DiGiacomo and elected Lynda Tine-D’Anna as trustees during 15 hours of voting at Huntington High School on Tuesday.
The $129,812,991 spending plan for the 2018/19 school year passed, 1,215-314. A proposition seeking release of $7.151 million from the Building Improvement Fund for various renovation and repair projects in every district school also sailed through, 1,293-209.
A second capital reserve proposition to create a new 2018 Building Improvement Fund was also approved by a vote of 1,260-238. It will exist for a probable term of five years and be funded in the ultimate amount of $1.5 million. The purpose of the fund is to cover costs in whole or in part related to capital improvements to the district’s facilities, “including but not limited to replacement/repair of the high school’s turf athletic field, reconstruction and masonry work and site work.
The new fund will be capitalized with monies transferred into it from the district’s existing repair reserve fund as well as by surplus budget funds, regular budget appropriations and interest generated by the monies themselves. No bonds will be sold or monies borrowed to fund it.
“We are beyond grateful to the voters for their support of the budget and capital propositions, and for their confidence in general,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “It will allow us to continue providing a high quality educational program for our students, as well as address the infrastructure needs of the district’s buildings in a fiscally sound manner. While we are surely focused on a terrific end to 2017/18, we look forward to the year ahead in anticipation of the many great things in store for our school community!”
School Board Race Results
In the race for three seats on the Huntington School Board, voters re-elected Christine Biernacki (1,029 votes) and Thomas DiGiacomo (897) and elected newcomer Lynda Tine-D’Anna (816) to three year terms. Challengers Michele Deegan (686) and Alvin White (566) trailed in the balloting.
The terms of the re-elected trustees commence on July 1 and run through June 30, 2021. About 1,582 residents cast ballots on Tuesday. There are about 22,600 registered voters in the district. (Absentee ballots totaled 44. About 350 more ballots in all were cast this year compared to 2017.)
The budget approved by voters carries an estimated tax rate increase of 2.68 percent. The average home in the district assessed at $3,430 is projected to see a tax increase of $213.69 before state STAR program savings are factored in. However, should the district’s total assessed property values increase above the level estimated in the 2018/19 budget, trustees will be in a position to lower the tax rate increase when final action is taken in the early fall.
Tuesday’s vote culminated a budget process that saw the district seek to keep a lid on expenditures. Spending will rise 2.85 percent from the current year, due mainly to increases in instructional and health insurance costs. The district anticipates receiving an increase of $597,023 in state aid. It plans to utilize $1.94 million in reserve fund monies to help hold down taxes.