Hardy Plumbing
December 07, 2011

School Districts Need To Embrace The Cap

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, noting state property owners pay an average of almost 80 percent more than the national average, vowed to do something about it if elected and delivered after he was elected. That's good news for beleaguered homeowners trying to survive in the midst of the worst economic climate since the depression.

For the most part though, school administrators and school boards – schools account for about two-thirds of our property taxes – have gone on their merry way, blissfully ignorant of the realities of life in the real world.

The property tax cap enacted at Cuomo's urging is specifically designed to force school districts to abandon the shameless spending sprees most have been on for decades.

Recently, the local districts heard from a so-called paid "expert" about the cap. More to the point, his speech was more about how to circumvent the cap and the exemptions to the cap.

The tone was set at the beginning, when Albany was basically fried for having the audacity to broach a cap. The consultant, Anthony Cashera, a former school administrator himself, lambasted the cap, claiming the school districts hadn't been given enough information about it. To say he found an attentive, agreeable audience would be an understatement.

Why, when this plan was announced last year, didn't school boards and superintendents begin crafting a strategy? Why must these superintendents, who make salaries equivalent to CEOs, need the nuances of the cap explained to them? Aren't they capable of deciphering it themselves?

Here is The Independent's free analysis of how to cope with the tax cut: add up all your expenses. If they come to over a two percent hike in taxes, start cutting items until you get under. It would be unfortunate if the quality of education has to suffer but if teachers have to be let go so be it.

Maybe the school can do without a superintendent with a secretary and someone answering the phone, an assistant superintendent with more office help, a couple of building principals and a few vice principals, no doubt with more support staff.

Memo to school superintendents: Those of us struggling to maintain our homes and dignity really don't care anymore about your little empires. We've had it. Get the job done, or we will hire people who will.

Sour Grapes

We couldn't help notice the distinct odor of sour grapes when reading some of the other accounts of the East Hampton elections. To hear them tell it, re-elected East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican, had best heed the call of dissatisfied voters and change his tune. It seems, because Wilkinson got a lot more votes two years ago, that he must be doing something wrong.

Not really. Two years ago was an aberration from the norm, a reaction to the scandal that engulfed the town as a result of the incompetent Democratic regime that left the town $30 million in debt. Perhaps Wilkinson's critics should harken back to four years ago, when he lost by 103 votes to Bill McGintee, who was later forced to resign by the Suffolk County District Attorney before his term ended. In fact, McGintee's budget officer was arrested.

How could townfolk vote for this guy in the midst of a well-publicized criminal probe? Because the town's voting base is overwhelmingly Democratic. Dems outnumber Republicans by almost a two to one margin. Personalities aside, it could be argued that since the GOP maintained its majority rule of the town that voters think they are doing a good job. It could also be argued, conversely, that Wilkinson's opponent, running with all that support and all of Alec Baldwin's money, was still not able to beat the incumbent.

Of course, the bellyaching comes from newspapers that endorsed Zach Cohen, Wilkinson's opponent. It's not unusual for Democratic candidates in East Hampton to get 4800 votes. Cohen got 1500 fewer. He lost – get over it.

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