Smith: 'There Should be No School Tax Increase This Year'

Glen Cove resident and business owner Rick Smith voices concern over the impact of the school budget on taxpayers.

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.

cc May 11, 2011 at 02:48 PM
How much has the union given back?
lookyloo May 11, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Nothing, I believe. Why are the tax payers buying the new teachers lunch?
Bill May 11, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Welcome to Glen Cove where there's never a free lunch!
bill May 11, 2011 at 08:09 PM
If our schools looked as bad a Mr. Smiths building I would be afraid to send my kids there
Bill May 11, 2011 at 08:25 PM
From the vintage look of Smith's photo, it was probably taken at the time when he put his last nickel into fixing his property. What an image for the center of this town. How long has this man been whining about school taxes? It's getting old. Older that that photo. Mr. Smith, the only one you speak for is yourself. You tire us.
lookyloo May 12, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Gotta agree with Bob on this one. Does Bill support the school budget or does he just dislike Mr. Smith? Hard to tell from his comments since they amount to nothing more than personal attacks rather than anything substanitive on the budget vote. I'm voting NO. I don't see any compromise from the teachers' union or decrease in administration. Why do we pay our school administrater more than we pay the County Executive? Why do some on Long Island make more than the Gov. of New York? Why can't we consolidate some of the administration of our schools? I hear it talked about, but nobody is doing anything. I'm sick of hearing that old, tired, excuse from our Board, our Administration, and the sheeple that "this is how we've always done it". Yea, well maybe that is the problem that got us to the point where we're paying the highest taxes in the nation. Just remember, if we continued all our practices just because that is the way it was always done, we'd be going for blood lettings and having leaches applied to cure disease. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past instead of being destined to repreat them year in and year out. We need solutions, which is gonna mean changing the way things have always been done....that is what got us here in the first place.
Mike May 12, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Hey Bob It seems to me it is Mr. Smith who has a personal vendetta against the kids of Glen Cove. Here you have a man who opposes every school budget yet I have never seen him at a city council meeting or heard him criticize the city when they have 25-30% tax increases.
cc May 13, 2011 at 09:54 AM
We are like sheep going to the slaughter. So now is the time to stand up an be counted and VOTE NO and then renegotiate the contracts with the unions and administration. If they do not want to sit down to the table then we should replace them along with a board that has guts.
Rick Smith May 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Rick It seems as though Mike doesn't know much about what is happening in town. For example, over many years I have hosted tours for Long Island school children through my Piano Exchange, giving them lessons in the science of sound. This "hands on" approach to education via field trips, has been very popular, as proven by the scores of thank you letters and gifts I receive after every tour. Vendetta indeed! Then as far as not seeing me at Tuesday night City Council meetings, I have been going to them for over 40 years, but I don't attend every one because I devote most of my time to attending School Board meetings on Monday nights. The reason I go to more of those is that, like the famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, I think it is more necessary to go "where the money is". The City's budget has been traditionally less than that of the school's, and the school tax is 65% or so of the total property tax whereas the City tax is usually less than 20% of the total property tax. I am a vociferous opponent of any kind of tax increase. I have been at nearly every school board meeting for the last 12 years. Has Mike? Through my cumulative efforts over those years, every taxpayer in Glen Cove now saves 23% of their school tax each and every year. I don't know of anyone who can match my record.
Joan A May 16, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Easier said than done. Unfortunately, we cannot get enough people to run for the Board of Ed. Two openings and only two candidates? What a shame! It's not even a race. Raise your hand and you're in. What will happen next year when there will be three openings? With the exception of one or two, the majority of our board members sit in silence. They need to be reminded that they represent us not the administration.
cc May 16, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Keep it up Rick. This town is doomed the way they give the money away. The down town is a joke, but they have money for a ferry to no where. They pave the streets to fill the pockets of contractors. Let's get real the only ones to benefit from the school budget are the GCTU and administrators. Ask any realtor selling a home in GC how they portray our schools against neighboring communities?


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