People usually feel happy when they think about saving money, but when they think about the property tax cap, their feelings may be mixed. The tax cap, the first in New York history, is aimed to protect homeowners and merchants from increasing property taxes. It will cap the tax levy at two percent or the rate of inflation, depending on which is lower.
“It’s a step forward for New York,” according to Andrea Vecchio, founding member of East Islip Tax Pac. Regarding the facts that teachers are going to be fired and educational programs cut, she said during a phone interview on July 11th, “That is the school district’s decision to fire the teachers and cut extra-curricular programs. Besides, because of the property tax cap it will force the schools to prioritize on what is needed and what is not.” Vecchio also added that if sixty percent or more local voters don’t want the property tax cap then they could vote against it.
“This is a pivotal time for schools on Long Island,” said John Hildebrand, a senior education writer at News Day. “There’s a pressure to raise standards but no money to do it.”
For the town of Oceanside state aid was cut 1.64 percent. Although the budget managed to stay under 2 percent, there was a tax increase of almost 4 percent.
Oceanside Schools Superintendent Dr. Herb Brown said that he thought the cap should be reconsidered. “Education is a big part of Long Island and to rearrange high school schedules by cutting periods and extra-curricular activities would not be fair to the students,” he said.
This year Oceanside’s budget was approved. Although many people complained about the taxes, the approval of the budget shows that the people are willing to pay. The high school has been doing well, since 92 percent of students graduate and 94 percent of graduates receive Regent diplomas.
Oceanside school officials are worried that because of the tax cap the quality of education will decrease. They look at California, whose education was once the envy of the nation but since the tax cap was issued it ranks 46th in the United States, according to The New York Times.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” said Brown. “The board will probably need to work together to get something done about it.”