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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Home Schools Rye PTO Heads Ask Latimer To Exempt Unfunded Mandates from Tax Cap

Rye PTO Heads Ask Latimer To Exempt Unfunded Mandates from Tax Cap

Latimer & PTO IMG_0846

(PHOTO: Surrounded by PTO leaders, Milton PTO Co-President Nancy Pasquale presents Assemblyman George Latimer a couple hundred letters asking for the state to exempt unfunded mandates from the proposed state tax cap.)

On Saturday, Rye PTO heads went into action, meeting with Assemblyman George Latimer to request New York State exempt unfunded mandates from the proposed state tax cap. Currently, the State has a property tax cap proposal (the primary source of funding for public schools) but continues to burden school districts with "unfunded mandates" – various requirements for the local districts to pay for certain things.

One of the letters presented to Latimer Saturday:

As a parent residing in the Rye City School District, I am deeply concerned about the possibility of a tax cap, as recently passed by the New York State Senate. Recognizing the difficult economic climate, I do not dispute the need for property tax relief. However, a tax cap of up to 2%, as proposed, will only damage the education that public school districts – including Rye – can offer their students.  Frankly, a tax cap without mandate relief or exemptions will gut successful school districts as we know them.

If a tax cap is to be passed, it must be initiated in conjunction with mandate relief. How can we be bound by a tax cap at the same time we are required by law to fund a rapidly-expanding list of state mandates? This year alone, contributions to the state pension system have increased double-digits. School districts are powerless against this mandate – and this is only one example of hundreds that we are forced to comply with.  Our school district is facing on-going enrollment increases, and there is no provision for this in the proposed cap.  Again, I urge you to consider exemptions for unfunded mandates when discussing the property tax cap. If not, our district will be forced to take away millions of dollars in programs and services that would fundamentally change the structure of a Rye City School District education.

For our district specifically, our high school sports program would be in jeopardy. Class sizes would most certainly increase, and teacher aides would be reduced or eliminated. Essential staff members such as school librarians would be reduced. The music and art programs would be scaled back. For someone whose child is actively involved in the Rye City School District, I know the devastating ramifications these program cuts would have. Our children would be forced into a “cookie-cutter” education, without the program choices, extracurricular and athletic opportunities, and the personal attention that they currently enjoy. We would be making our children less competitive with their public school peers across the nation, essentially robbing them of vital opportunities.

Our children have the right to the best education possible. An education constrained by a tax cap without exemptions for unfunded mandates strips this right away. As the Governor of our State, legislative leaders and an elected official representing our school district, please make sure that our voices are heard and advocate for the children of the Rye City School District.

2 COMMENTS

  1. By all means, if you believe – like I do – that the tax cap is bad legislation – write a letter to your representatives. George will listen. Suzi probably won’t as she’s already voted in favor of the tax cap. Not sure when she’ll start actually working in favor of her Rye constituency. Guess she’s too busy looking after White Plains, Port Chester, and parts of New Rochelle.

    The tax cap is an attempt to treat a symptom rather than the problem which is … wait for it … spending. In this instance, spending driven by NYS without commensurate funding. [Some of the junk the State has pushed should be eliminated EVEN IF the State funded it ’cause guess what the ultimate source of that funding would be. Yup. Us.]

    While I believe that there are reductions that can be made to local school district spending, I also believe that we – the tax payers – should retain the right – via majority vote – to decide how much is too much or too little. Would that we had a similar vote for the city’s budget, the county’s budget and the state budget… That might change some behaviors. Although we’d probably risk a tyranny of the majority / special interests getting out the vote. But I run on.

  2. Bob you should take a look at a concept in law called “discretionary prosecution.” Rye City uses this more and more frequently to sidestep laws on their books. Never used to be this way but now it is their semi preferred solution when they get caught supporting lawbreaking. And if this can be used against taxpayers and homeowners there should be no reason it couldn’t be employed to stiff unfunded mandates. We could just spend (or send) a level amount with prior year and tell the spending mandate goons to pound sand. They might sue or levy fines – but that’s where municipal discretion comes in – yes? Small municipalities apparently now have the ‘discretion’ to choose which laws count and which don’t.

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