Residents of Mill Neck, Bayville and Centre Island and the greater area turned out in large numbers for a standing-room-only meeting at Mill Creek Tavern last week. The Bayville Centre Island Rotary club hosted a Q&A session for all those desperate for an update on the West Shore Road project. Rotary Club President Jamie Scott ran the meeting, which highlighted guest speakers: Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau Department of Public Works (DPW) Engineer and Project Manager Donna Boyle and DPW Press Secretary Michael Martino. Bayville Mayor Doug Watson participated in the meeting.
Also recognized at the event were the three area residents who founded and run the informational Facebook page “Revitalize West Shore Road,” Margaret Marchand, John Taylor and John Doyle (visit www.facebook.com/RevitalizeWestShoreRoad).
Deceptive looking from the outside, J Building on West End Avenue on Oyster Bay’s Western Waterfront has a lot of activity going on inside — two days a week. On Tuesday, April 16, Peter Nash of Oyster Bay was taking a peek inside. Retired from the aviation industry he likes to see how the work is going along. He watched during the recent restoration of the oyster sloop Christeen’s keel and now is watching the Ida May being built. “I can appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication to detail of the volunteers. [He pointed to the wooden pegs used on the hull.] It’s such a beautiful work. That’s why I always come by to see it progressing. That’s going to be a beautiful boat when it is finished. A true classic.”
Nash has a grasp on the core of the project, dedicated volunteers creating a masterpiece. Slowly — but surely — the new Ida May is being built at the site of what will one day became the Oyster Bay Wooden Boat Museum. It’s a long way off, but it is in the plans. On Wednesday, April 24 a meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. for volunteers in J Building, as a new season is starts as the weather warms up.
Several local leaders are discussing the possibility of teaming up to expand Nassau County’s sewer system to improve Hempstead Harbor’s water quality and stimulate economic health and home values.
A group including Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy and Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Executive Director Eric Swenson visited with U.S. Congressman Steve Israel last week.
Rayhnam Hall Museum keeps improving. This week you will be able to see nine accurately restored windows replacing ones in the front of the nationally accredited house museum at 20 West Main Street. During this summer you will see the house at 30 West Main Street, next to the Raynham Hall Victorian Garden, the 1915 Lincoln Market building, being restored. Together, the two properties will create a new campus for the Townsend property.
Raynham Hall Museum is involved in a restoration project for the Town of Oyster Bay Landmark building, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places. John Collins, historical architect, said using grant money from the Gerry Charitable Trust, the Main Street Association and donations from the board of trustees, they were able to do the work.
Professor Velsor has been researching her topic of the Underground Railroad on Long Island since 1994. She spoke about her journey to a full house at the Koenig Center recently, at a book signing attended by many Quakers, historians and interested listeners. She enhanced her talk with slides from the book. The book, the result of a research grant, includes notes, a bibliography and an index that will make it a great tool for future researchers.
Ryan Tveter, the only American tackling the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup in 2013, laid a solid foundation for future success in the season-opening tripleheader last weekend at one of Europe’s most famous tracks, Hockenheim.
Tveter, 18, of Oyster Bay and Zurich, Switzerland, didn’t have the results he’d hoped for in his first weekend racing in Europe, but he was far from disheartened because he learned so much.
In celebration of National Park Week, the Friends of Sagamore Hill will be hosting the first annual Dog Day at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on Sunday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This very special event is a nod to the many four-legged friends the Roosevelts cared for during their 60 years at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, but also in recognition to our dog-walkers who have continued to visit Sagamore Hill during the major rehabilitation at Theodore Roosevelt’s home.
All friendly, well-behaved, leashed dogs are invited attend this free activity. Special guest Rick Caran along with “Team Jilli Dog” will be in attendance throughout the day. At 1 p.m., Caran will provide an engaging program with his amazing little pups, performing their unique tricks. In addition, Caran will be provide some of his expert training tips on how anyone can train the family dog to do some of these wonderful tricks! Rick Caran and “Team Jilli Dog” have appeared at fairs, expos, corporate and private parties and functions around the US and the world. More information ocan be found at http://jillidog.com/index.html.
Those driving through the streets of Oyster Bay hamlet may have noticed something different in recent days: new street signs.
The new blue and white signs with brackets shaped like sails are meant to pay tribute to Oyster Bay’s nautical history, according to John Bonifacio, president of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association.
“They are a nice addition to the town,” Bonifacio says.
The plan for new signage in the downtown area has been in the works since 2000, a project undertaken by the Main Street Association (MSA) as well as community groups. The cost of the custom-made signs is covered by a matching grant; the MSA raised $70,000, and the federal government matched those funds.
For many people, the mention of taxes, percentages and points can be a source of stress and anxiety. Add politics to the mix and you have a sure fire recipe for confusion.
For those of you who enjoy pouring over all the facts and figures, everything is posted in the Budget Information page on the Oyster Bay – East Norwich School website.
For the rest of us, let’s try to understand what is going on in the simplest way we can.
The first thing to understand is what makes up a school budget. Just like you do at home, the schools have to make a good guess at how much money will be needed to meet expenses for the near future. Those estimates are spelled out line by line in an expenditure budget.
The next step is figuring out how to pay for these projected expenses. School districts get some of their revenue from state aid, federal aid, local revenues and reserves. The amount received from all these sources is never enough to fund the entire expenditure budget.
The amount not covered by those revenue sources is made up from taxpayers in the form of a tax levy. It is this revenue item that New York State has limited. New York State passed into law a “2 percent limit” on the tax levy. However, the 2 percent figure was just a starting point. The state allows for exclusions to the limit. Depending on how the exclusions are figured in, some district’s limit comes in higher than 2 percent and some lower.
Some of the permitted exclusions are for real estate growth in the community, debt service, and district contribution to the retirement systems. When all the factors are calculated, the Oyster Bay East Norwich school tax levy limit for 2013-2014 is currently set at 3.09 percent. This number may change as more information comes in from the state, but should only deviate by .05 percent either way.
After a couple of years of hearing the Governor talk about a “2 percent cap,” it is easy to see why people are confused by the 3.09 percent figure that we are now working with. To be clear, our 3.09 percent tax levy limit is the amount allowed by New York State.
A district may choose to go higher than the permitted tax levy limit. However, a budget that is higher than the limit must pass the vote by a super majority of 60 percent. The OBEN Board of Education decided to stay within the state levy limit and will not need a super majority to carry the vote.
The trouble is that the business of operating our schools while maintaining all the programs we have in place will be more expensive next year. An “as is” budget for next year would cost 4.72 percent more than last year. However, since we can only increase the tax levy by 3.09 percent, a ‘budget gap’ has been created between revenue and expenditures.
Many school districts around the state are faced with cutting jobs and programs to close this budget gap.
Oyster Bay – East Norwich can be proud of the work done by the district administrative team. Last year was the first year of the Levy Limit Law. Showing great innovation, the administration closed the budget gap for the 2012-2013 school year without cutting any programs or jobs. Each subsequent year gets more and more difficult to keep up with rising costs. The 2013-2014 budget gap is going to be difficult to close without increasing class sizes and cutting programs.
Board of Education Trustee James Robinson said, “Preparing the budget is not a sprint to May 21, but rather a marathon for the future of the excellent educational program in Oyster Bay-East Norwich.”
It will become more and more difficult to close the budget gap each subsequent year that the levy limit is in place. The district administration has proposed cutting expenditures by $451,000 and dipping into the fund balance to raise the revenues to close the budget gap this year.
Many people wonder why the district does not just use the fund balance to bring the tax levy even lower. Many districts have been forced to do this and are now facing financial disaster. The district administration has proposed a budget that is within the tax levy limit while keeping an eye on the fiscal well-being of the District for the years ahead.
Not only has New York State limited the tax revenue the district can raise, but has also cut state aid to the district. This year Oyster Bay – East Norwich received over four hundred thousand dollars less from the State than was received in 2008-2009. Cuts in State Aid amount to over 2 million dollars less than OBEN would have gotten had the amount of State Aid remained the same since 2008-2009.
New York State Assemblyman Al Graf of Holbrook says, “A disproportionate share of education funds comes from the people of Long Island and the amount returned gets smaller and smaller every year.”
Long Island represents about 17 percent of school-aged children and homeowners pay the most in taxes. However, Long Island only gets about 12 percent of total school aid paid out by the state. The board of education will decide where cuts are to be made, how much reserves should be used and adopt the 2013-2014 budget at the April 16 meeting.
On May 21, the polls will be open at Oyster Bay High School from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. for the budget vote. The vote will be decided by a majority above 50 percent.
If the budget fails, the board of education can choose to have a second vote, which carries with it the cost of hiring people to work at the polling place and renting the machines. If the budget fails a 50 percent majority a second time, the district would be forced into a contingency budget that would result in a significant loss of programs.
With bluegrass music playing, the sound of a model railroad roaring by and the happy chatter of a successful party, the new exhibit at Planting Fields Foundation (PFF) opened to a preview audience on April 4. Henry Joyce, PFF executive director and Gwendolyn L. Smith, PFP assistant curator at and curator of All Aboard: A Railway Fortune at Planting Fields can be confident of a great run.
Henry Joyce said, “It’s a wonderful exhibit because it’s such fun and it brings out the child in all of us. It also explains why Planting Fields is here. Mai Rogers Coe’s fortune is what built it.”
Joyce’s exuberance and warmth invites the public to come and experience the exhibit through a series of themed events. [See our calendar to chose your favorites.] The exhibit opened to the public on Saturday at the Manor House and runs through Sept. 2.
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