Incurable Tax Addicts Have Taken Over Long Island Schools

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The Long Island tax cap doesn’t work as hoped. The tax addicts always find a way to raise real estate taxes to astronomical proportions with or without a tax cap and there is no sign of it letting up.

Newsday reported that the tax rates for Nassau schools rose an average 6.8% even with the 3% tax cap. That is more than twice what was expected. Most thought the increase would be at the rate of inflation – about 2.9%.

Residents shouldn’t be surprised said one pol, they could have used a calculator! Gee, that was helpful, callous, but par.

The increases went as high as 9.6% in Great Neck.

It’s so much better than last year, however, when it was 11.7%. Greeeeat!

The tax rates have jumped an average of 19.1% in Nassau County in the last two years. That means some had higher tax increases than 19.1%!

The reasons for the surprising and astronomical increases are: reduced assessments due to a drop in home values, reduced state aid (thank Cuomo who believes LI is an ATM for NYC and upstate), property tax exemptions (what’s that about?), demolitions, and best yet, the assessor requested to shift the burden from businesses, condos and utilities to single-family homeowners (what’s up with that?). The Executive Director of the School Boards Association, Lorraine Deller, blames the county taxing practices.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

One obvious omission by Newsday is the effect of salary/benefit increases in the public sector, especially in school districts. Educators have been traditionally isolated from financial pressures, cruising along with their annual raises, step increases, and generous benefits, but should they be while everyone else who pays their salaries is struggling? Should we all pay our fair share or is that only meant for non-union people and property owners?

The public sector should not be immune from the recession or should they be? If so, what is the justification for that?

Is it time for administrators and teachers to go to arbitration instead of getting automatic raises and benefits that are well beyond the inflation rate?

There is a site called Baldwin Budget which has a good example of what is happening in the public sector schools.

Check out the teachers’ salaries:

The salary is 57% of compensation.

The median salary for 8 months of work is $112,000

They are covered for healthcare, pensions, and 4 months paid vacation

The grand total is $200,000 per teacher each year

This scenario isn’t peculiar to Baldwin. It isn’t even solely Nassau County’s problem. It’s Suffolk County as well.

The problem is that no matter how much we care about our schools and our teachers, it is becoming unsustainable. People can’t keep paying these bills if the people in the schools are getting increases far in excess of the rate of inflation and those who pay their salaries. That is just the reality. We could become Detroit one day.

Meanwhile, as foreclosures throughout the nation go down, they are increasing markedly on Long Island. Could school district taxes have something to do with this?

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Foreclosure sign on a typical Long Island home. It’s becoming an all too familiar sight.

Over the last 8 months, foreclosures on Long Island have surged 53% compared to the same period in 2012. Nationwide, it’s 34%.

It’s time to worry but the tax addicts can’t be stopped unless homeowners take action.

Concerned taxpayers who would like to see how their school district compares on salaries and contracts can goto SeeThroughNY. Taxpayers in Baldwin can check Baldwin Budget.

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