Unfortunately on May 15 North Rockland voters will go to the polls unsure of what a 2.68 percent tax levy increase will result in as realized property tax hike this fall. Although the North Rockland administration and board have done yeoman’s work in trying to keep expenses down, there are many people on fixed incomes in our community that will not be able to afford any increase this fall. And once assessment and equalization takes effect, a 2.68 percent tax levy increase could result in a 5 percent hike or more. This increase will be even more difficult for Haverstraw residents, who last year saw a 7.9 percent hike on their property taxes.
A much better strategy or approach would have been to use some of the $5 million projected surplus from the 2011-2102 fiscal year to offset the need for a tax levy increase in the 2012-2013 school year. Some of this surplus would have eliminated the need for a tax levy increase and closed the current $3.5 million budget gap. This move would have resulted in a win win for the community. Our schools and programs are very important, but we must try a new playbook. The playbook of more taxes over the past several years has only resulted in more teacher cuts and less programs, which has resulted in more taxes. Why not try a new playbook of “less taxes” so we can attract new businesses to North Rockland and ratables that will help fund our schools and programs?
So, on May 15, I may be looking for the “Not Sure” lever when voting.