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School vote: In Seaford, 'It’s become too much'

Dan O'Brien, 63, said he doesn't usually vote in school elections. But Seaford Union Free School District's nearly 9 percent proposed tax levy increase drove him to the polls despite the rain this afternoon.

“I can’t go for it, not this time around,” he said. “It’s become too much.”

O’Brien, of Wantagh, a retiree who also works at a library, said of the budget, “I know it’s probably going to pass.” But the message he wanted to send was this: “They should be a little bit more careful with our money.”

O’Brien said high taxes were “tough” on both older residents like him and  younger residents. “I don’t know how they’re going to be able to stay here,” he said.

Seaford’s proposed $55,181,680 budget is 2.92 percent higher than the current year’s budget, with a 8.99 percent increase in the tax levy. The average house assessed at $923 would pay school taxes of $7,280 — an increase of 8.82 percent over the current year’s $6,690.

Before tucking into lunch at his regular table at Pat’s Korner coffee shop in Seaford, retired painting contractor Jerry Beard, 69, said he voted this morning against the Massapequa School District budget.

“It’s out of control,” he said. “Everything’s out of control.”

Citing the district’s superintendent and assistant superintendents, he said: “It’s just incredible — it’s so top-heavy. How much can you keep paying? I think everyone’s just fed up.”

Beard added that he thought the Massapequa, Seaford and Wantagh districts should be consolidated into one. “We’d cut out millions,” he said.

Bob Pennington, 57, a Seaford resident, said, “I hear a lot of people talking about voting it down this time” because of the higher tax levy. Pennington, a contractor, said he hadn’t quite made up his mind about how he would vote today. “I usually end up voting for it,” he said. “I’d hate to see the sports get cut.”

The proposed budget eliminates 10 teaching positions, 12 chairperson positions and three support personnel. It also cuts the district’s remedial positions, test preparation academies and seventh-grade basketball and volleyball teams.

Seaford substitute teacher Kerry Rome, 48, lives in the district and voted for the budget this morning, she said during her lunch break.

Rome said the school tax levy was higher this year because of the loss of a couple major local businesses. “The community has to absorb that increase,” she said.

When budgets fail, she said, “The kids suffer. The schools lose a lot. I think it’s very important to keep the schools going.”

Earlier Tuesday, a trickle of voters was at Seaford Harbor Elementary School at midmorning.

Retiree Rich Heinbockel, 59, of Seaford said he was voting for the budget, as he usually does. “I think it’s going to be tougher this year,” he said. Heinbockel said his two children, now grown, went through the district schools. “It’s a good school system.”

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