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Editorial 5/3/2011
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Unfinished Business
presented by Peter Kohler

One of the most difficult questions facing legislators as they return to Albany is whether to cap increases in local property taxes at 2 percent.

Tax caps have been endorsed by Governor Cuomo, and approved by the State Senate, but not by the State Assembly.

Of course, some school districts argue against capping property taxes, saying to do so will only compound their budget woes, aggravated this year by huge cutbacks in state school aid in the recently approved state budget.

Blaming these cuts in school aid, some districts are proposing school budgets with property tax increases far exceeding 2 percent. Consider William Floyd: 12.47 percent; Seaford: 8.99 percent; Elwood, 7.98 percent; West Islip, 7.73 percent.

But, as legislative leaders point out, any tax cap they would approve would not affect school budgets this year, but could only go into effect next year.

The big obstacle of course is opposition from legislators who will try to water down the tax cap legislation, or hold it hostage to make deals. And it will take all of Governor Cuomo’s considerable leadership skills to cap property taxes, leadership he has already demonstrated in achieving budget cuts.

So when voters decide the fate of school budgets later this month, they can also send a message to Albany, demanding and end to ever escalating local property taxes, year after year.

With Nassau County now ranked No. 1 nationally in terms of local property tax burden–and Suffolk not far behind–it’s time Albany got the property tax message: put a cap on it.

Kelly Platt
Center Moriches, NY
I agree that there should be a tax cap on property taxes, but as long it doesn’t damage the quality education our districts are providing for our children and it doesn’t place a bigger burden on the district taxpayers. Because of the cuts in education this year, it’s not only hurting our taxpayers but it’s hurting our children and the teachers who are being laid off. Many school districts have cut their budgets down to the bare bones but still are proposing high tax increases. They are cutting programs for students, cutting teachers in the classroom, cutting sports programs and music, which are what matter most to our children. What many school boards are doing wrong is not consolidating on school administration and those non professionals who do not have a direct impact on students in the classroom. Teachers have fallen victim to these cuts due to school boards’ fiscal irresponsibility. Parents depend on teachers to educate their children, not school administrators. Governor Cuomo needs to step in and not only place a cap on school superintendent salaries, but place an overall cap on what all school administrators should make, including principals and secretaries. Taxpayers, like myself, are tired of being the cash cows for these over priced administration members in our schools. Where is the relief? Our state Assembly members need to get their heads out of the sand and work for the taxpayers for once. Do something productive and pass legislation that will help our taxpayers and not hurt our schools or the quality education. Districts need state mandate relief. Every year there is a new set of state mandates being proposed and placed on the backs of the taxpayers to fund. Long Island taxpayers provide New York State with the highest percentage of our tax money to New York State Education. Don’t you think it’s time to send more than 9 percent of the state’s budget money back to Long Island to educate our children? Taxpayers in Center Moriches are still suffering from the near 40 percent tax increase we had back in 2004, yet will still have not received any relief from Albany. Our district is proposing a near 7 percent increase in taxes, but if our budget fails on May 17th, we again could be facing a double digit increase as high as 23 percent! We need relief and we need it now!
Fred Gareau
Center Moriches, NY
Kelly is absolutely spot on. People need to get off their butts and onto their Assembly member’s case. We can’t be the cash cow for overpaid administrators at the expense of the kids’ educations.
Carl Todd
Glen Cove, NY
It takes a needed amount of money to provide for necessary government expenditures. After an anti-waste search and elimination, the money to provide those services must be funded. To cap income tax deductible real estate taxes forces the politicos to create non-income tax deductible fees that only benefit the state and federal governments’ coffers at the expense of the local tax payer–as the politicos brag about the money they are saving us. Ha!
Kristina Burke
Manorville, NY
After reading the other responses on this editorial page, I agree with Kelly as well. Why are districts so fast to give pink slips to teachers and other employees but not one administration member received one? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? By letting go of teachers, this will hurt our children’s education with increased class sizes, and those with learning difficulties will suffer. Everyone up for election on school boards needs to be voted out for not putting our kids’ education first and assisting in lining the pockets of high-paid administration members and their assistants. Where are our elected state officials on this? Why aren’t they helping the taxpayers?
2011-2012 Budget Development
2011 – 2012 Budget Letter
Budget Information for the 2011-2012 School Year
2011-2012 Budget Information
Budget publications, legislation and related media presented by Governor Andrew Cuomo
Feb. 15, 2011
It didn’t take long for Governor Cuomo’s proposal to cut $1.5 billion in school aid to bring threats of massive teacher layoffs on Long Island. Last week Sachem, one of Long Island’s largest districts, notified 375 teachers that they could face layoffs. The district had learned it could lose $16 million in state aid…
Feb. 1, 2011
Cablevision missed an opportunity to join in an important regional dialogue about the implementation of a property tax cap that makes sense. Instead, their recent editorial equated the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association’s recommendations for the design of a more sensitive tax cap to advocating for taxpayer torment. Long Island taxpayers have a lot to lose. A flawed cap will lead to a deterioration of public education…
Jan. 18, 2011
Now that Governor Cuomo has become a champion for capping local property taxes, he has apparently enlisted some surprising converts, among them some Long Island school superintendents. But don’t be fooled. When Long Island school superintendents embrace tax caps, it’s only part of a strategy to fill them with holes—loopholes…
Jan. 7, 2011
He called it a time of crisis. In his state of the state message, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of the need for radical reform, offering the perspective of crisis transformed into opportunity: “This is a time of crisis for our state,” he said, “a time when we must transform our government to once again become the progressive capital of the nation and to seize the moment of opportunity that is before us…”