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The Sun letter to the editor: Examining school taxes: Do the ‘new math’

Editor:

This letter to the editor is in regards to the standard annual scare tactics, employed by those wanting to extort “yes” votes on the 2014-2015 Hamburg Central School budget, that were utilized in The Focus May 2014 Budget Newsletter to property owners.

Approve this budget or we’ll gut music, art and sports and feed your kids dirt for lunch! And, besides, “it’s for the children” and the “school tax impact” is only $45 per $100,000 of assessed valuation so, if you vote “no,” you’re simply a cheapskate. Maybe true, but $45 on top of $45, year after year, translates into an additional hundreds or thousands of dollars out of the pockets of each property owner, over a period of years.

In fact, The Buffalo News, in its Sunday, May 18 edition, included a chart on Erie County school spending which listed Hamburg at dead last among 28 school districts with a 27.9 percent increase in the tax levy from 2009-2010 to 2014-2015, while experiencing a 6.1 percent decline in student enrollment over the same period.

I was intrigued by a statement made by our school board president in the budget newsletter. The comment was that “the entire faculty and staff … have become experts at doing more with less,” and that they should be “commended” for that. Does he really believe his own rhetoric? In an environment where our school taxes have been increased every year, between 2 percent and 4 percent or more, while our student population has decreased and programs have been cut (this year alone; intramural sports, student clubs, etc.), this statement cannot be upheld. It seems to me that, given the above facts, we are in reality doing less with more. Or maybe it’s that I just don’t understand that “new math” that people are always talking about? The school board president did get at least one fact correct in his column, however: We are fortunate to have a slew of outstanding teachers in this district.

It’s no wonder that we see so many “For Sale” signs in front of houses in our area these days, particularly in the village of Hamburg. I would venture to guess that it has a lot to do with homeowners no longer being able to meet the onerous and unsustainable property tax burden that we are already bearing. It’s abundantly clear that town/county and school taxing authorities couldn’t care less that the American dream of home ownership is being taxed out of the reach of many prospective homeowners. Rest assured, however, that property taxes will continue their current trend and we will all be expected to pay more, even as the regional population served by these governmental entities continues to dwindle.

I also have one suggestion for the idiot(s) who is/are cowardly harassing our new superintendent of schools from the shadows – Grow up! Would you be proud to tell your children what you have done? Would you want them to be treated in the same manner? I didn’t think so.

Mike Mack
Hamburg


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