If the tax cap becomes law, a large question will remain ["About time to close the deal," Editorial, June 1]. Will the salaries and benefits of teachers and administrators continue to rise while sports programs gradually shrink and average class sizes move upward? In my view, a cap is needed, but it ought to be on school salaries and benefits.
James E. Stubenrauch, Massapequa
As a lifelong Long Islander I am extremely happy that our taxes will not continue to double every 10 years. I read your article regarding poorer districts that may suffer under the tax cap ["Critics: Cap will hurt poor districts," News, May 25]. The tax cap will force the poorer districts to spend within their means.
I have been told repeatedly over the past few years by superintendents and other administrators that there is a "glut" of certified teachers without work. If this is true, then why is it necessary for Central Islip to pay its teachers a top salary of $150,918? At the end of the contract in three years, the top salary will balloon to $173,848.
These salaries, in a community that has a median household income of about $65,000, make absolutely no sense. Central Islip should have no trouble meeting the tax cap, as it will be able to freeze its salary schedule for many years and still have no trouble finding qualified applicants for teaching positions.
Peter Lanci, Central Islip
Hail the tax cap. We need it, and it might help home sales if buyers know there is some protection from the past unsustainable rate of increases.
Not to see the cup as half empty, but capping taxes without capping or cutting expenses won't work.
With many administrative and teachers' salaries doing quite nicely, with excellent health, pension and retirement benefits, and guaranteed pay increases, they'll take a larger percentage of the budget each year, until there will be nothing left "for the children."
Richard Sweet, Freeport
So the tax cap is a great deal for Long Island. Never mind that it will ruin our public schools. Never mind that it takes away a big part of local control. Never mind that the independence to decide the future of our own communities has been usurped by Albany. And never mind that most of our state representatives blindly endorsed this most vicious attack on our way of life, which was led by a governor who doesn't care about Long Island or its future. Yeah, great deal.
Peter Ward, West Islip
Newsday devoted an entire column to Longwood School District Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer's letter ["Tax cap will hurt public schools" May 27]. He claims that the Longwood community overwhelmingly supported the budget, which reflected a 3.95 percent tax levy increase. Considering that the contingency budget (which would have been enacted if the submitted budget was voted down) was 99.72 percent of the submitted budget, what exactly did the superintendent think we would do? We weren't overwhelmingly supporting the budget; we were facing the reality that we were voting on only 0.28 percent.
He goes on to say that the tax cap will result in an inability to provide the "educational programs our community has come to expect." What he doesn't say is that the reason for that is primarily because the labor agreement with the teachers unions guarantees gargantuan increases in salaries and benefits, year after year, no matter the economy or the ability of the community to afford them. These guaranteed salaries and benefits will be paid first, and then if there is anything left over, it will be spent on these "educational programs" that we the community apparently have come to expect.
He then plays some statistical games by using the 1989-90 school year, in which the state apparently supported 53 percent of the budget. He compares that with 2011-12, in which the state supported 35 percent of the budget. The simple fact is that if you inflate the budget year after year with onerous increases in salaries and benefits, the amount of dollars that the state supports you with will fall as a percentage, even though the dollars increase. Come on Superintendent Gerstenlauer, the community can reason.
Christopher D. Reilly, Coram
In reading "Guv, lawmakers salute deal on 2% property tax cap" [News, May 25], I could not help but cringe at the phrase, "the announcement brought swift and harsh condemnation from school boards and superintendents, teachers unions and public-employee unions."
I wonder what planet they live on? My wife and I live in the Connetquot School District in Oakdale. Our school taxes were $7.86 per $100 in 1999-2000. In 2010, our taxes were $15.20.
I have to ask, are our children any smarter or better educated because of this increase? Are our buildings and grounds in much better condition? Is our school transportation system in better shape?
A better question would be, are our teachers getting paid better, in percentage terms, than they were 12 years ago? Are their benefits and pensions in better shape?
In the private sector, many employees have been faced with givebacks and there have been layoffs so that companies can live within their budgets. In the school system, expenses be damned, as there is a cash cow out there called the taxpaying public.
Stan Feldman, Oakdale