"Will our children and grandchildren be able to afford to live in our communities?
For over eight years, as a member of the Pearl River Board of Education, I have been involved with developing sound and responsible budgets for the Pearl River School District. School property taxes account for nearly 70% of the total property taxes paid by homeowners and commercial property owners. Interestingly enough, I am expressing similar concerns today that I was expressing in 2008 – “Will our children and grandchildren be able to afford to live in our communities?”
I have been doing my best considering that over the past eight years, Pearl River School District taxes have increased an average 1% each year. The Pearl River BOE started limiting tax increases two years prior to passage of the Property Tax Cap law. In my early years on the school board, I was instrumental in creating a consensus to eliminate unnecessary budgeted spending, which resulted in a spending reduction of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eight years later, this has led to accumulated savings of several million dollars.
Additionally, there was an excellent rapport with the bargaining units which led to contract agreements which were beneficial for all involved. This smart budgeting leadership enabled the Pearl River School District to plan a sustainable funding source for the implementation of full day kindergarten in 2015 and thereafter.
Just as I have done for the Pearl River School District budget, I will do the same regarding the New York State budget."
Below is my plan to address tax reform in New York:
- I will thoroughly review and eliminate unnecessary spending within the budget.
- I will ensure that any new state mandates are appropriately funded thus eliminating additional financial tax burdens on municipalities and school districts.
- I will free up the promised yet undelivered frozen Basic Education Aid (Foundation Aid). Our local school districts have been shortchanged tens of millions of dollars over the past six years. Providing increased education aid would increase revenue for each school district, thus enabling the district to reduce the tax levy for taxpayers.
- I will work closely with my colleagues to fix the flaws in the Property Tax Cap law. Having the tax levy cap to be tied into the Consumer Price Index has forced municipalities and school districts to reduce or cut programs and services. My opponent has been well aware of these flaws.
- I will work tirelessly to ensure that no legislation unnecessarily burdens the taxpayers. For example, although proposing free public college tuition sounds great, if passed this would cost taxpayers over $3.4 billion each year. To put this in perspective, this amount is double the year-to-year dollar increase for the entire 2017 NYS budget.
- I cannot condone legislation which shifts taxes from one segment of the population to another segment of the population. As stated in existing NYS legislation, “As a matter of public policy it is not in the State’s interest to shift taxes from one group to another. Rather, the State should seek to reduce the tax burden for all taxpayers.”
- I will dedicate additional resources to investigating and eliminating suspected Medicaid fraud. $17.7 billion is budgeted for Medicaid in 2017. I applaud the tenacity of the Rockland County Executive in his office’s efforts to combat fraudulent claims.
- I will work on transferring the burden of Medicaid costs from the county level to the state level.
Tom DePrisco is a resident of Pearl River. He serves as the Vice President of the Pearl River School District School Board and the Rockland County School Boards Association. For more information visit www.TomDePrisco.com.