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As usual, Niskayuna school budget asks too much of taxpayers

Thursday, May 9, 2013
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As usual, Niskayuna school budget asks too much of taxpayers

The Niskayuna school board is again asking taxpayers for a bailout.

The board is proposing the area’s highest tax increase (5.76 percent) and distinguishing itself as the only district requesting an override of its tax cap (4.7 percent).

Forget 2 percent to 3 percent — the average for most other districts. Inflation remains in the 1 percent to 2 percent range. Expenditures are up about $1 million year to year, resulting in a proposed tax levy increase of approximately $2.8 million to cover another significant deficit “rooted in diminished state aid year after year,” according to school officials.

What about the next year’s “deficit?” How about five years from now? Our governor and Legislature have responded to the public outcry over taxes and passed a very benign tax cap, which most school boards have worked hard to stay under. Undaunted, the Niskayuna school board continues to spend at will, deplete reserves and expect taxpayers to dig deeper and deeper.

A “yes” vote for this budget reinforces the board’s addiction to overspending and ensures future override proposals. District officials apparently expect approval, as stated in the May 2013 letter to residents, citing prior favorable votes in excess of the 60 percent required to override and knowing the traditional small turnout will enable the strong coalition of district employees and worried parents to determine the outcome. Complacency? Arrogance?

A “no” vote sends a message that there is a limit to taxpayer benevolence. The board’s job is to meet the needs of the schools while being accountable to Niskayuna taxpayers, who have supported the highest of school funding levels in the area.

There is now an imbalance to the detriment of those who pay the bills. Rubber-stamping this proposal will exacerbate the problem.

Richard Baker

Niskayuna

Finish border fence first, then reform immigration

Drug cartels cross our border, threatening citizens and police with the type of violence that has turned northern Mexico into a lawless war zone. Thousands of illegal immigrants break our laws and put unsustainable burdens on our welfare programs. Terrorists continue to probe for any soft spot they can.

And what is our government’s response? To ignore it. Politicians eye illegal immigrants as potential votes and pander to them. The president puts so many restrictions on the Border Patrol that they are currently suing the federal government for the right to do their jobs! The 700-mile border fence authorized in 2006 gets defunded with only 40 miles complete.

Now we get a new immigration bill chock full of loopholes, more than enough to let the federal government worm its way out of securing the border.

It is clear we cannot trust their word. Before we even begin to consider what to do with illegal aliens, we must require the government do its job: to provide for the security of the American people. The fence needs to be built to impede illegals and drug cartels.

Liberals will claim that a fence won’t stop people, but one only need look at the dramatic reduction in terrorist attacks in Israel after it built the West Bank barrier fence to see that such barriers can work wonders.

Complementing the fence, we need more boots on the ground. The Border Patrol reports only catching half of the illegals they detect crossing the border. That is not nearly good enough. We need a universal [employment eligibility verification] system to prevent employers from hiring illegal aliens, removing the economic incentive to come.

Should these things be done consistently, the government then might regain some credibility on the immigration issue. Until then, all their promises are just so much hot air.

David Welch

Scotia

Ire over disparaging name was misdirected

Re Vito Spinelli’s May 2 letter referencing Kelly de la Rocha’s April 28 article, “Lunch crowd keeps on truckin’”:

Mr. Spinelli faults Kelly for including in the article a business whose owner refers to it as “The Wandering Dago.” Mr. Spinelli apparently feels that the business owner should have been omitted from the article based on his choice of business names, and goes on to say Kelly would have excluded the vehicle if it disparaged Jews, blacks or Hispanics. Perhaps Kelly would have; I don’t know and neither does Mr. Spinelli.

What I do know is that to omit this presumably Italian businessman based solely on his company name would have been racial discrimination, poor reporting and poor judgment. If Mr. Spinelli has a problem with the gentleman’s choice of business names, perhaps he should discuss it with “The Wandering Dago,” rather than take out his outrage (his words) on the journalist.

I find it rather refreshing that this young journalist was not aware of the derogatory term. It shows how far this country has come in our acceptance of racial equality and tolerance of other races.

What is unfortunate is that people like Mr. Spinelli feel they must keep “stirring the pot” to bring this disparaging (and obviously unknown to the younger generation) term back into use.

Ken Benson

Charlton

Same clothes, different day sends right message

Thank you for Sara Foss’ wonderful May 7 article, “Blouse, slacks fight school bullying.”

[Mohonasen teacher] Faith Perry is a blessing and inspiration to us all because she wears the same outfit (washed daily) every day to fight against the tyranny of fashion, one of the main enablers of today’s culture of bullying. We could use her type in all sectors of society.

I look forward to hearing in the near future about the many people that this article has encouraged to follow in Faith Perry’s footsteps in her fight against bullying.

Thanks again.

JOEL NELSON

Schenectady

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comments

May 9, 2013
7:03 a.m.
mstella says...

Richard Baker, you are so right. It is time for Niskayuna to live within its means like the rest of us do. And despite high taxes the school district is no more than mediocre. The smart kids are the reason for the good test scores, not the schools.

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