Editor's Note: Rick Smith is a Glen Cove resident and owner of the .
On Tuesday, May 17, we will again vote to decide who will be the for the next three years, and vote for or against a . Since there are two seats available, and only two candidates, one of whom is a current Board member, this year’s election is irrelevant.
That however is not the case with the budget vote. In many held over the past few months, discussions of the School Board resulted in a decision to raise the school tax by 3.8% over last years tax, and then, incredulously, increased to 4.1% after prodding by Joel Sunshine, the board member who is running for re-election.
I wrote a long letter to , expressing my upset with that much of an increase, which was not substantially different than tax increases during better economic times, and indicating which of the many items on the 1200 line budget I thought should be removed. Included in my admonition were things like $125,000.00 budgeted for repainting two rooftop cupolas, replacement of some doors and windows for $150,000.00, complete replacement of two school roofs for somewhat less than $1,000,000.00, and finally, what is indicative of how frivolous administrations and school boards can be with taxpayers money, $2480.00 for “new teacher lunches.” That item alone I felt could be a lightning rod for the community, since, if that item, which was explained to me to be a “traditional” expense item in every previous budget, were seen by the voters, they would assume that there are many more outrageously unnecessary items in the budget and vote against it.
Dr. Laria, in his wisdom, took heed of my concerns and recommended that the Board forgo most items mentioned in my letter, and the Board voted to lower the proposed budget increase by .8% to 3.3%. That was a welcome change, and I thank Dr. Laria for that, but that reduction is still not enough. I believe that in these harsh economic times, a lot more could be cut from the budget to reduce the tax increase. So did Board member David Huggins who openly expressed shock and disbelief when the other six members of the board surprised him and voted for the 3.3% budget, apparently going against a decision they seem to have made at their “Executive Session” just before the public meeting.
I think that the public needs to do a lot more investigating and active participation in the budget making process all year long, especially in the first few months of the year. Changes also need to be made to the State Education Law, which mandates costs and procedures that unreasonably encumber School Boards and administrations. Our county has just achieved the “honor” of having the highest property tax in the nation. The inflation rate for the last few years in this country was zero. Based on that and some of the things outlined here, there should be no school tax increase at all this year.