71° Good Afternoon
71° Good Afternoon

Letter: Schools use bonds to get around cap

A budget vote reminder sits on the Belmont

A budget vote reminder sits on the Belmont Elementary School property in West Babylon on May 19, 2014. Credit: Johnny Milano

Newsday's articles and editorials about school district matters on Long Island are almost always excellent. However, I found "Tax capped and tapped out" [Editorial, Sept. 28] surprisingly off the mark.

It's true that because as much as 70 percent of school budgets pay for generous salaries, generous annual increases and very generous fringe benefits, school districts find it difficult to stay within the 2 percent tax-levy cap law. However, my district, like many others, has found a way to circumvent the cap. It's called a bond issue.

Now under discussion at Port Washington school board meetings I've attended this fall is a bond issue of $65 million to $70 million, to pay for districtwide upgrades and enhancements -- in other words, a wish list of projects. I predict that this new bond issue will be approved without problem; school budgets have been approved by at least 70 percent of voters each year.

Under state law, a school district can issue bonds as often as it wants to and in any amount, as long as it can get at least half of the voters to approve. And that is why school districts on Long Island are not "tapped out," as your editorial suggests.

What's more, the new bond issue is going to be proposed for a vote in February, not May. My school officials apparently believe that some possible "no" voters will be wintering in Florida, or won't venture out of their homes on an inclement winter day.

Joel Katz, Port Washington