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Op-Ed: Germino on School Budget

Resident Robert Germino discusses ways to approach upcoming budget.

Editor's Note: Robert Germino is a former candidate of the 13th Assembly District seat and a Glen Cove resident. 

Once again, we enter the school budget season: school boards threaten “draconian” program cuts; property-tax levy increases are still greater than inflation; budget supporters rally “it’s for the children;” their opponents are demonized; the overtaxed and unemployed residents vote with their feet; repeat this process next year. The casualties are (a) New York property-taxpayers who still live in the highest taxed state in the nation, (b) the students who lose their educational programs, and (c) common sense.

You, the voter, can change this process. As you cut wasteful spending from your budget during tough economic conditions, you must empower your school boards to do the same. This begins with lobbying your state representatives to repeal draconian mandates. Here are some recommendations.

  • Repeal the Wicks Law. This law requires separate plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, and electrical contracts of a certain threshold (e.g., greater than $1.5 million in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties). While those who crafted this law may have had good intentions, according to the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), this mandate adds an additional eight to 30 percent cost to school construction projects.
  • Exempt school districts from paying “prevailing union wages” on construction projects. The Empire Center’s “Blueprint for a Better Budget” stated, “this adds 28 percent to total project costs upstate and 76 percent to project costs downstate.”
  • Require all new school employees to accept defined-contribution pension plans. This 401(k)-type plan caps pension contributions by the employer (you, the taxpayer) at a certain amount. It empowers the employee to make his or her own investment decisions, gives the employee a portable investment if he or she chooses to change careers, and limits risk to the employer. Under the current defined-benefit model, school districts face explosive costs. The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA), therefore, supports offering defined-contribution plans to employees (this is already an option for SUNY and CUNY employees).           
  • Repeal the MTA payroll tax. This tax applies to all employers in the 12 counties of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District. It was a bailout for the dysfunctional MTA; however, it is still insufficient to close the MTA's forecasted budget gaps. Last year, it cost Glen Cove School District $140,000 and all school districts in the 13th Assembly District over $2.1 million. You not only pay the school districts' portion of the MTA payroll tax via your property taxes but also fund their reimbursement from the state.
  • End the Triborough Amendment. It requires you to fund pay increases to public unions despite expiration of their contract. As NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said, "If a contract expires, the terms of the last year of the contract should continue, unsupplemented by step increases, until a new contract goes into effect." Furthermore, NYCOM stated, "[It] undermines the collective bargaining process by discouraging unions from offering concessions or givebacks since, as long as no agreement is reached, the terms of the current contract remain in effect."

While some may find these recommendations unpleasant, the alternatives to mandate relief are far worse. If we wish to grow our communities, high property taxes must not continue to force taxpayer relocation. In our discussions, let us follow leadership examples such as the Brentwood Teachers Association. This union agreed to freeze pay increases among other concessions. Their actions averted massive layoffs and additional cuts to student programs. 

Tess March 05, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Listen to Robert Germino…He knows what he is talking about!.. I hope the people in the 13th district decide to elect him in our next 13th District Assemblyman to help represent us!. ..Unfortunately Mr. Charles Levine received 56% of the vote and was re-elected... but what many people don't know is - the people who live in the same town as both these past candidates - mostly voted for Robert Germino; NOT C. Levine!..it's unfortunate that the other towns did not pick the right candidate...C Levine voted to help the MTA receive monies (and our taxes rose because of it) - months later, if you read the news, the MTA are still complaining they don’t have "enough funds", and are again using excuses to rally for more financial support!... C. Lavine did the wrong thing!..Mr. Robert Germino was against the MTA Tax hike, and as you see - he was right!..(Tiffany Levine and I) and many others support Mr. Robert Germino for many reasons..He is intelligent, knowledgeable, ethical, tons of energy; want to help the residents of his district and a decorated war-veteran who fought for our country!… In the cul-de-sac that I live in (12-14 houses); the town collects approximately $175,000 a year from just my small cul-de-sac in taxes! . No wonder people are moving out of state…How can we afford paying over $1,000–$2,600 a month out of our pockets to pay for these taxes?...Not everyone in Long Island (Gold Coast) is rich!...Let's learn from our mistakes - Let's listen to Mr. Germino!
Tess March 05, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Are you aware they have the annual school-tax election-day in the school district to raise taxes; but, if they don’t get passed, then a few weeks later they have another election (that is not widely advertised) because they didn’t like the fact that the residents voted “no” on raising the school tax..... So, they decide to make another election and not advertise it as much – in the second election (weeks later) it winds up getting passing because most residents are not aware of the Second Election Date on the same topic!!.... I was very curious about this and asked a teacher one day why this is so…… She told me: “ the raises go to teachers/superintendents salaries caused they are in the “Union and in their contract to “get a yearly pay increase”…….”What? I thought these tax hikes were specifically for the children and their programs!”…….I do believe that our teachers (the GOOD teachers ) should get paid a good salary, but there is so much money being wasted and hidden…where is it all going?.....As we are seeing, its going to ridiculous teachers salaries/superintendents salaries and over paid retirement benefits! .....Another note, I think the classes are overcrowded…….If you’re gonna have so many kids in one class, then hire one teacher and an assistant so a big classroom can have two adults assisting the kids. .. I personally think a lesser amount of children in one classroom is more conducive for kids to learn.
John Gault March 06, 2011 at 12:09 AM
The annual "it's for the kids" game that protects the bloated administration & the outrageous healthcare & retirement benefits that none of us in the real world, (the private sector), gets, has to end. Every year these people who have guaranteed jobs that their bosses, the taxpayers, dream of, cry that asking them to do more with less like we all have, is an affront to the children of our community. What a croc. The average teacher salary in the GCSD is $78,485 & they don't pay for their health care & have a guaranteed pension to which they do not contribute. For a total of 3,000 kids, there are 22 administrators making over 100K/year. Check this link: http://www.longislandschools.com/districts/glen-cove-city.html Consider that this is for a work day that ends at 3:00 PM, with 3 months off a year. How many of us have that? Our taxes are high enough. Don't believe me? Nassau County has the highest Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing, by County, Ranked by Property Taxes Paid* (Three year average-2007-2009): http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/proptax_county_taxpaid-2007-2009av-20110225.swf We're number one! We're number One! I'm so proud!
marina March 06, 2011 at 12:12 AM
not only are our taxes are off, and running, you have the same old politicians running. mr. germinio is a young and intelligent young man. he won in glen cove, yet out of glen cove he won. not knowing what a lying b*****d he is. he double talks, and the people believe him.
Jerry Romano March 06, 2011 at 03:30 PM
The powefull well funded teachers lobby spent $6.3million dollars in Albany in 2010 year on campaign contributions and other giveaways to our elected officials. Maybe we should get together and send Marcellino and Lavine a cheese platter to get their attention. Wouldn't it be nice if they represented the people instead of being the lapdogs for the public sector unions?
Tess March 06, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Sounds like Marina didnt read what she wrote before she posted it. I believe she meant to say that Mr. Germino is an intelligent young man, and that he won in Glen Cove. And that, Mr Levine only won outside of his town he lives in because the people outside of Glen Cove do not know what a lying b****d he is and that he double talks and people who dont know him - believe him. I know Marina so I am writting on her behalf. I called her earlier to let her know she goofed on what she wrote ( so I would assume she will try to write her comments again) Tess and Tiffany Lavine
Tess March 06, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Thank you Tess and/or Tiffany That is exactly what I meant: Mr. Germino is an intelligent young man, and that he won in Glen Cove. And that, Mr Levine only won outside of his town he lives in because the people outside of Glen Cove do not know what a lying b****d he is and that he double talks and people who dont know him - believe him. Even though I am a registered Democrat, I vote for the man/woman who will do the job they are campaigning for, not someone who just spews out lies just to get elected. And like what is happening in Egypt and other parts of the world, sometimes you need to get the OLD politicans out since their thoughts/values and focus has proven not worthy of them being in office and then and allow a newer politician into office. Thank god us GlenCovians realized that Germino wouild be gthe better candidate...... unfortunately the other parts of gthe 13th assembly district didnt. Well, maybe next election! Actions speak louder than words.
Eileen Coles March 07, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Mr. Fascist Sock, don't you find it a bit strange that for all that "we're number one", our Rethuglican County Execuclown can't seem balance that over-the-top budget? Is it that he doesn't have enough left to work with after his fat cat cronies get their piece of the pie? This Glen Cove resident voted for Lavine. I like the job he's doing, and I don't think we need an Ayn Rand worshipper whose tea party nutjob supporters vandalize the Wikipedia page of their opponents and who salt local discussion forums with anonymous propagandist hatred. A step up that is NOT.
John March 07, 2011 at 03:47 AM
I have said for years, Glen Cove is behind repairs. Unfortunately we have a couch bound mother who we cannot move and 70% of our social security goes to RE Taxes, Yes 13K yearly with no end in sight!!! We can't say we cannot wait to get out of here because it means after our mother passes on, but when it happens before she is cold we will look for a sucker to buy our house so we can high tail it out of here. To give an example how local taxes kill business, my son and I just find out that the city of Philadelphia imposes a 4% wage tax on gross receipts of any resident no matter where he/she conducts their business......Guess what? The house is up for sale pronto!!!!!! He is light on his feet with no children or elderly mother to worry about, unfortunately we are stuck in Glen Cove and it's socio-fascist agenda. But like Patton once said "a man stays as long as he has to and then he is gone". Yeah! keep voting for the twin Chucks Smucks Lavine and Schumer. Remember, once the parasites overwhelms their hosts they will have each other to eat of. Congratulation Glen Cove.
Rob Germino March 07, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Correction: I don't "worship" Ayn Rand anymore than you worship Susan "Medea" Benjamin of Code Pink or Manny "Truther" Badillo of NYC CAN.
John Gault March 07, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Ms. Coles, as usual, you resort to hateful name-calling as opposed to dealing rationally with any issue. We've been down this road too many times, where I point out facts or give my position on an issue & you react in traditional Alinsky fashion by ignoring that & smearing & demonizing me. I grow weary of these fruitless exchanges & will not take the bait this time - there's nothing to be gained from them. I'm sure you'll take the opportunity to unleash at least one more spate of venom towards me, so knock yourself out. I would, however, be glad to exchange ideas with anyone else interested in an actual dialog on the subject at hand, the GC school budget & our taxes. I would like to point out to anyone reading this, however, exactly who and what this woman is. Please search for her postings on this site & you'll see that she consistently hurls the same epithets towards anyone who disagrees with her 9/11 Truther, Code Pink, Social Justice positions. Then check the internet for her & you'll see she's been an advocate of these conspiracy theories & Socialist causes for a long time. If you believe what she does, then by all means listen to what she has to say. Otherwise, discount them for the sad emanations of an unbalanced mind that I believe them to be. As opposed to the contempt that she feels for me, I feel nothing but pity for her. It can't be easy going through life believing the whole world is out to get you & finding conspiracies behind every corner.
Martin Carmody March 07, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Glen Cove teachers do pay towards their healthcare and GC teachers also contribute to their pension program.
John Gault March 07, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Martin, If I'm mistaken on the terms of the GC Teachers contract, please enlighten me. What percentage do the teachers contribute to health care costs & pensions? Are these contribution amounts different depending upon when you were hired?

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