Some of you will remember Bruce Amey as a Liverpool High School teacher in the 70s and 80s. Others will know Amey as a very effective High School Principal at A-P-W. I remember Amey well, as a committed and enthusiastic English teacher during those Liverpool years.
Thus, it was with sense of pride that I read Amey's very logical letter in the Dec. 30 Buffalo News. Starting with Governor Cuomo, every member of the New York State Legislature-Assembly and Senate alike-should read his letter which makes so much sense.
Amey, now the school superintendent in Avon, a community just west of Rochester, very clearly explained that most school districts will be financially devastated if a tax cap levey becomes law at the very same time that school districts are experiencing major cuts in state aid. Bruce wrote that in Avon, the mandated increases that the district must pay into the retirement systems alone will result in a tax levy increase of more than 2%; yet Governor Cuomo is promoting a maximum tax increase of 2%. As he stressed, if the Governor's proposal is passed, his school district would not be able to raise the "revenue to even cover costs that the state mandates the district to pay."
Tax caps make good politics anytime, especially in a state where property owners are paying some of the highest taxes in the nation. But the Governor's timing leaves a great deal to be desired, especially when the feeble state economy makes it necessary for New York State to keep cutting school aid. North Syracuse Central School District took an $8 million hit in state aid this year and all the signs indicate a similar reduction next year. We have some definite facts: based on a 1.6% CPI, the Governor's tax cap levy proposal would require next year's budget to be cut by $8.5 million. Add on the possibility of another $8 - $9 million state aid cut and the North Syracuse Central School District would be forced to reduce its $135 million budget by approximately $17 million. Let's not kid ourselves -the school district would be crippled. I would be remiss if I did not add that the Governor's proposal allows voters to raise the cap if 60% of those voting endorse the school budget. That's a positive.
Remember, this year we lost $8 million in state aid, eliminated 102 positions, and ended up with a budget $2 million less than the previous year.
If both a tax cap and a horrendous state aid cut occur at the same time, this school district as we know it, will be significantly damaged and will not be able to offer the same quality and quantity of academic, operational, and extracurricular/academic services as currently exist.