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Niskayuna school taxpayers finally said, ‘enough is enough’

Saturday, May 25, 2013
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Niskayuna school taxpayers finally said, ‘enough is enough’

Niskayuna voters resoundingly defeated the school budget put to voters May 21 that contained a 5.76 percent tax hike, exceeding the district’s tax cap of 4.66 percent. Less than 45 percent of the voters approved the budget — far less than the 60 percent required for passage.

The state School Boards Association reports that only 27 of New York’s 669 school districts proposed budgets that exceeded their respective tax caps; and of those, only eight budgets passed. This year, the state’s school districts proposed budgets with an average tax levy increase of 2.9 percent — half of what had been proposed in Niskayuna. The 11 area Suburban Council school districts proposed budgets whose average tax increase was 3.14 percent.

Niskayuna taxpayers have clearly had enough. The wide support most Niskayuna school budgets have garnered in the past has crumbled in the face of another significant tax hike.

I will credit the district with doing a good job of keeping the taxpayers informed during the budget process. Taxpayers understand by now the pressure that pensions and health insurance are putting on school budgets. The broken promises by the state concerning Gap Elimination Aid have put many districts in a terrible bind.

We also know the quality of the Niskayuna schools and the district’s high standing among area schools. However, there is a limit to what taxpayers can bear, and the Niskayuna board has exceeded that limit.

My pay has not risen in three years, while others have lost their jobs or have seen their wages stagnate as well. The school board has to face the fact that more belt tightening is in order and, yes, program cuts may be required. I am quite confident that further cuts will not plunge Niskayuna’s quality of education to the bottom of area school districts — or even into the middle of the pack.

I’m glad that Superintendent Susan Salvaggio stated that the district takes the results of the budget vote seriously and that they are listening. Now the challenge for her and the board, when they put the budget out for a second vote in June, is to rework the budget with further cuts to make it more affordable for taxpayers.

Dennis Quinn

Niskayuna

Given Silver’s sorry history, he should resign, too

Re May 21 AP article, “Silver sorry for mishandling of sex case”: For the second time in 10 years, we find that longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has allowed a large cash settlement to protect a member involved in a sexual harassment problem — this time $103,000 to “handle the allegation against Vito Lopez.”

In 2003, another substantial amount was used to protect Michael Boxley, an attorney and Silver aide accused of harassment and possible rape. In both cases, a nonsensical excuse was made that the settlement were carried out to protect the privacy of the victim.

For settlements in both situations, public taxpayer money was inappropriately used, and both individuals resigned after the egregious action of the speaker become public. A nonsensical excuse was made that the payouts were done to protect the privacy of the victims.

This activity and misuse of taxpayer money is questionably illegal and serves only to promote additional unacceptable behavior by members of the Assembly. It is without question outrageous.

I propose that Mr. Silver resign or at least agree to [retire] at the end of his present term. Refusal to do either could be dealt with by initiating impeachment proceedings for his history of totally inappropriate actions, which have brought additional shame and embarrassment to the ultimate victim — the state of New York.

Lastly, the governor, who has on many occasions pledged and committed himself to improving state government ethics, should act immediately to do so.

Lyle W. Barlyn

Niskayuna

City doesn’t adhere to its own paving policies

Re the May 23 article, “City to enforce paving rules”: Route 7 in Schenectady has “pavers” marking the crosswalks at the lights and intersections.

Over time, those pavers have lifted and/or broken, either by weather, snowplows or wear and tear. The city is demanding that local paving companies not pave over concrete if is was originally there (e.g., sidewalks); however, the missing pavers from the crosswalks are being replaced with blacktop rather than the original material. Is this acceptable?

I am aware Route 7 is not a city or town highway, but shouldn’t these roads have the same rules?

Also, why should a contractor have to be insured? I [should] have the right to pave the driveway myself or hire whoever I want (be it a friend, a small company, or an uninsured company).

I understand the city has guidelines; please make them clear to the public, and they will be abided by.

Nancy Ostapow

Rotterdam

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comments

May 28, 2013
1:12 a.m.
jjhehir says...

In the past six years the cost of employee benefits (pension contributions and health care) went up 43% in the Niskayuna school system, while salaries actually went down 1.3%. Taxpayers are paying $5,528,188 more for pensions and health care this year than they were six years ago, but $476,862 less for salaries. You can thank the teachers’ union and elected officials in Albany for the pension increases dear taxpayer, and thank the Niskayuna Board of Education for the reduction in salary costs. By voting down the school budget, taxpayers are not hurting those who parceled out such great pensions in return for union support. You are hurting the school kids who will have to deal with the trillions of debt they will inherit from this country, and do it with the crappy education we will be giving them.

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