Over the years I've come to appreciate many of the very generous people we have living here in Port. One couple recently spent a month in Kenya helping poor people in various ways, including a donation of several large water tanks. Another woman, by no means wealthy, is constantly writing checks donating large sums to needy people. She recently donated $3,800 to pay the tuition for a poor St. Peter's student who couldn't afford tuition. There are numerous other stories I'm aware of, and, I'm sure, you are as well.
That said, I'd like to mention there are also hundreds of struggling families here in Port, with their lives made more difficult with the growing economic problems of the mortgage and credit crisis, the tightening job market and our ever increasing property taxes. While we can't do much about the credit crisis or job market, we can do something about our property tax problem, most of which are school taxes. Over the past 25 years, inflation has risen 150 percent. During this same time, with the same number of students, school costs have risen by 340 percent! Another way to say this is that, on average, each year for 25 years our school district increased spending per pupil at a rate 65 percent more than inflation (6.1 percent vs. 3.7 percent). When you do this year after year, the cumulative result is a school budget that is 80 percent higher than it would've been had spending kept pace with inflation.
Proponents of more spending blame "state mandates." But this is only part of the problem. The far larger part is due to: (1) state laws allowing two budget votes, budget increases when defeated, and "defined benefit" (rather than "defined contribution") pensions for school employees; and (2) imprudent fiscal decisions by our school district - decisions involving cost effectiveness that would only be made by a government monopoly and never ever be made in private industry.
If you share our concern over school taxes, the bulk of our property taxes, get on our mailing list by sending your name and address to PWEA, PO Box 203, Port Washington NY 11050, or call 767-9179, or visit our website at www.pwea.net.
Frank J. Russo, Jr.
Port Washington Educational Assembly