Why you should vote ‘yes’ on school tax increase

Dear Editor,

The Tioga Central School District held Budget Informational workshops for the 2015-16 school year. Approximately 200 attended last Thursday’s meeting. The school district is considering an annual tax increase of 30 percent over the 2014-15 rate.

It is the opinion of this property owner with a proposed average of $20 a month increase to my School District tax base, that this is a small amount of money to alleviate a short term fiscal crisis. More in depth research and definitive long-term decisions need to be made to provide an education to the children that would provide opportunity and resources to benefit them throughout their lives. But we need to invest not minimize our efforts for the sake of our children.

The Administration and Board of Tioga Central has diligently reduced efficiently most all expenses wherever possible, however, It is important to note that the listed major causes of the deficit budget for the Tioga Central School District at the current time can only be minimally intervened by Tioga Central or any local District. The New York State Education Department and State Legislatures are largely to blame for the educational travesty that our students would endure with an austerity budget.

The presentations presented this past Wednesday and Thursday illustrated many facts, suggestions, and opinions from the audience. There were many comments from the audience with differing opinions. Overall the presentations were professional, informative, and heart felt. It was evident that District Superintendent Scott Taylor cared for the students of this District, when he became emotionally overwhelmed while emphasizing how Tioga Central students deserve more than the minimal resources that a budget failure would provide.

Although the blame for the cause of the proposed District tax base increase is mostly New York State – other major cause included reduction and failure to provide mandated State Aid, unchecked increase in benefit and pension contributions, the governing Tax Cap Law that protects property owners, and an increased reliance of local reserve funds.

Although taxpayers are not privy to line item expenditures or assets, perhaps if a comprehensive strategic plan for fiscal responsibility was created (perhaps with a voluntary citizenship advisory committee) the District can then take control of its fiscal responsibilities with minimal impact on its citizens over a five-year period. Some other personal suggestions include conditions that could be placed upon the administrators such as creating a line item approval for budgets, a freeze on payroll increases, increasing employee contributions to health and retirement plans, and an overall greater transparency regarding the district’s fiscal administration. These actions with increased citizen attendance and participation at public District Meetings could make a long-term difference.

But until this can be put into place, please encourage your friends and neighbors to approve the Tioga Central School District Proposed 2015-16 Budget.

My sincere thanks and appreciation for the efforts of Superintendent Taylor, the Tioga Central District School Board, and the Administrators that made the workshop possible.


Daniel A. Cofone, Jr.