Wantagh budget, capital reserve fund proposition pass

A perfect storm for second lowest voter turnout in 15 years


The majority of Wantagh voters passed the 2018-19 Wantagh School District budget on May 15, with 1,215 taxpayers voting for it and 424 voting against. The district will also move into the school year with a capital reserve fund that can reach up to $7.5 million after 1,218 out of 1,625 voters approved it.

The 2018-19 school year budget will be $77.95 million — a 1.41 increase over the school’s 2017-18 fiscal year plan — and the tax levy will be raised by 2.82 percent. The average Wantagh homeowner with a home valued at $331,036 will see their school tax bill raised by $243 during the next school year.

During the months leading up to the budget vote, Wantagh administrators said the budget would help the district hire a district safety coordinator and an elementary school guidance counselor. In the upcoming school year, elementary school students can expect an increase of Chromebooks while students at the middle and high school should see new electives, such as an eighth-grade applied engineering course and Advanced Placement Psychology.

As for the capital reserve fund, it will be used for safety, security and infrastructure renovations, replacements and upgrades, according to administrators. At Wantagh’s May 3 Budget Hearing, Superintendent McNamara listed the priorities for this fund, such as boiler replacements at Wantagh Middle School and a replacement of the middle and high school rooves.

Anthony Greco, the 52-year-old incumbent who ran unopposed, won back his board of education seat with 1,270 overall votes. He will serve his third term on the board for the next three years.

Inclement weather troubles voting public

This year’s budget vote turnout of 1,639 residents marked the second lowest turnout in 15 years for the Wantagh School District. According to the New York State Department of Education, the only other year with a worse turnout was in 2015, when only 1,552 votes were counted for that year’s school budget vote.

In Wantagh, voting opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 9 p.m. Theoretically, the extended time period gives taxpayers who work a 9-5 work schedule some flexibility to vote around their day. Parents of Wantagh elementary schoolchildren could even stop by to cast their vote after attending their child’s after school learning fair.

Unfortunately, those who went to vote after working hours were also greeted by a flash storm. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning around 2:30 p.m. that lasted until 6:15 p.m., with voters having to dart through heavy rain from their cars to polling locations throughout the evening.

There is no official statement about the inclement weather’s direct effect on voter turnout.