For the second time in five weeks, Seaford voters have rejected a school budget proposal and now the district will have to operate on contingency for the first time in five years.
Seaford’s revised spending plan of $54.9 million was voted down Tuesday by 201 votes, 1,479 to 1,278. The budget proposal was $261,623 less than the $55.2 million spending plan voters on May 17.
"The residents of Seaford have spoken and we will follow the direction they have given us for the 2011-12 school year," said Seaford Superintendent Brian Conboy. "This has been a frustrating budget planning process and while I can understand how the residents feel about their school taxes, I am disappointed in the result of this vote."
Tuesday’s rejection by Seaford voters means the district will operate on a contingency or “austerity” budget for the first time since the 2005/06 school year. Under contingency, the budget is only able to be increased 2.26 percent and the district is limited to spending funds on bare essential items. The district will also be required to charge community groups to use its facilities.
The proposed budget increase for the spending plan voted down was 2.43 percent and would have included a jump of 8.43 percent in the tax levy, which is the total amount that a district must raise in property taxes in order to meet expenses. The average Seaford homeowner would have seen an increase of about $558 on their tax bills under the proposal, only a $15 difference from a contingency budget, according to district officials.
Some of the cuts that were included in the proposed budget voted down included $141,000 to middle school athletics, $68,000 in maintenance costs, $80,000 in technology, and $20,000 in security expenses.
The Seaford Board of Education now must cut another $95,394 to get its budget to contingency level. After announcing the results, the school board was discussing holding off on some equipment orders in order to reach contingency level.
The Board of Education has scheduled special meeting for June 29 at the Band Room starting at 7:30 p.m. to adopt the final budget prior to the state's July 1 deadline.