The Sag Harbor School Board on Monday took a close look at proposed 2018-19 budgets for its buildings and grounds and athletics departments, with board members requesting more information on the Stella Maris building and identifying potential omissions in the athletics budget breakdown.
Most subsections of the proposed buildings and grounds budget did not include separate lines for Stella Maris, which Superintendent Katy Graves said was due to the complicated nature of breaking them out individually. Only two specific expenses, $14,000 for additional heating oil and $15,000 for general repairs, were outlined, prompting some board members to ask for more specifics.
“It might be good to see a pullout cost of Stella — here’s where we’re really at now that we’re pen-to-paper on it,” said board member Chris Tice, who called it “a really big change for us.”
Board member Stephanie Bitis agreed, saying, “This will be the first budget that will cover the expenses for that building and operation outside the bond project. Maybe we should identify, as we go along, what those increases are so that we can explain them year-to-year.”
Later, when school maintenance crew leader Marcus DaSilva, who oversees the buildings and grounds, said overall maintenance costs were projected to drop by about $50,000, down to a total of $367,260, board members questioned the Stella Maris budget again.
“I’m curious why the maintenance is going down if we have another building to maintain,” Ms. Tice said.
“Stella is really barebones at this point,” Mr. DaSilva replied, and later reassured the board that he is “confident that we can handle Stella with these numbers.”
Ms. Graves said more specifics would be provided on Stella Maris during future budget workshops.
Mr. DaSilva also requested funding for a specialty lawn mower, a lawn mower bagging system, a deluxe scrubber, a utility vehicle and an equipment replacement contingency budget. The resulting amount, $34,725, is nearly triple the current year’s equipment budget.
“These pieces of equipment will decrease manpower and aid in the efficiency of our department,” Mr. DaSilva said, noting the life span of the lawn mower, which costs $9,500, is expected to be at least 15 years.
Expenses for electricity, water, natural gas and trash hauling are proposed to remain the same. The district is projecting a $2,500 increase in snow removal costs, up to $15,500.
Athletic director Eric Bramoff requested funding for permanent soccer goals for the recently-reconstructed athletic field at Pierson, money to host a middle school girls lacrosse program, instead of sharing a team with East Hampton, and money to buy HUDL, a video review and analysis program reputed to boost performance for athletes. Money is also included for a 1.9-percent increase in stipends for coaches.
Ms. Bitis noticed that the salary for the district’s athletic trainer had been excluded. While the athletics budget appeared to be flat, with an overall increase of less than 0.1 percent, Ms. Bitis said the budget was not an “apples to apples” comparison to last year’s budget.
“You’ve got huge increases in here that are masked by the fact that it got moved around,” she said, referring to changes that occurred this year with the athletic director’s stipend.
Mr. Bramoff confirmed the omission of the athletic trainer’s salary and said it would be added back in at the expense of another item.
“We’ll have to compress somewhere,” he said. “I just don’t know where yet.”
Earlier in the budget presentation, Dr. Philip Kenter, the school business administrator, said the district’s health insurance costs would be rising more than $625,700, up to about $5.31 million. Workers compensation costs are also set to rise dramatically, he said, based on “claims that have come to fruition and we have to pay a portion.” While unemployment and disability insurance costs are set to remain stable, the district will also pay increased Social Security and New York State retirement system costs.