I write this letter to ask that you support George Heidcamp, Jim Steinhilber and Mark Thompson. These three gentlemen deserve our support. They have worked tirelessly and for a countless number of hours on behalf of our district. The monumental tasks ahead of budget and curriculum will need the experience and dedication of these board members who are seeking reelection. If you attend the Board of Education meetings, you will clearly see their openness and straightforward dialog in dealing with the very important issues before the board and district. George Heidcamp has done an excellent job as board president and his energy and commitment to the district is unsurpassed. James Steinhilber and Mark Thompson in their own right have a proven record of excellence on the Board of Education and will continue to do so.
Please support George Heidcamp, Jim Steinhilber and Mark Thompson on May 18.
Donald G. Tucker
Former School Board member and president
THE COST OF NO
The difference between the proposed 21 percent school budget increase and the 12 percent mandatory increase for an austerity budget is about 9 percent. But that 9 percent makes a huge difference for our children. Every “no” vote on May 18 is in effect a vote against the following: sports, music, art, full-day kindergarten, elective classes, advanced placement classes, elementary school librarians, and a district social worker.
Are we really going to come together as a community and vote no over a 9 percent difference? Remember the 12 percent austerity increase is mandatory – it goes whether we want it or not.
Times are tough, I know. My bank account is barely holding on but providing an education for my kids and for the kids of Saugerties is important – extremely. We will cut back in other ways.
Come on fellow Saugertiesians! Let’s pull together for the school year of 2010–2011 and say yes! Yes for all the vital programs and staff that the 9 percent difference between 21 percent and 12 percent buys for our community.
MACISAAC A GOOD TRUSTEE, AND THOROUGH
With the coming May 18 school budget and board elections, one wonders how to go about making the decision of voting yes or no on the budget as well as which board candidates will best serve the school district.
I have been a Saugerties resident since 1963. My two children have gone through the Saugerties school system and are successful adults. I feel they received an excellent education in the Saugerties schools in spite of cost-cutting measures that have continuously plagued the school system. I have always voted in favor of the school budget. I occasionally attend School Board meetings and have watched school boards members come and go. I am now retired and live on a fixed income. My concern is the continuing increase in school taxes. At least one retired neighbor has had to sell their house because they could no longer afford the live here. We need to continuously look for ways to keep the school costs down. So who should I vote for? I have known Mike MacIsaac for approximately 20 years. I have talked with him concerning his frustrations with school situations especially when he previously served on the board. I admire his determination “to make things right” and has again accepted the challenge to go back and face the continuing struggles as a board member. Mike is a willing worker and does a thorough job in researching issues that face the board. My vote is for Mike MacIsaac.
MACISAAC WILL HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT Mike MacIsaac and I served together on the Saugerties Board of Education. Mike was a very good board member then and I believe he will make a positive contribution now.
While serving together, Mike and I were able to agree on many key issues that positively impacted the school district. Along with fellow board members, we were able to make significant improvements to the educational process. Improvements, such as those made to curriculum, student programs, student attendance, teacher training and facilities upgrades benefited not only the students and teachers, but the entire school district.
When making a decision as a school trustee, Mike always considered the impact to all concerned parties. Mike, along with the other board members, was very concerned with the cost to the taxpayers and worked diligently to make the necessary educational improvements, while at the same time, minimizing the tax levy.
As a School Board member, Mike was always well prepared for meetings and brought thoughtful insight to the table. He is an honest man, a devoted husband and father, and an active community member. I plan to vote for him on May 18 and I hope you will too.
Vincent A. Buono Jr.
HEIDCAMP AND STEINHILBER UNDERSTAND TAXPAYER CONCERNS As a taxpayer concerned for the future of Saugerties, I support George Heidcamp and James Steinhilber for the school board.
Over three years ago they warned us of an incompetent administration and fiscal irresponsibilities. Today their concerns have become a reality. As many board members took the easy way out, George and James stood up for the struggling taxpayers of Saugerties and voted against this budget. There is only one simple choice to be made and that is to return them to the School Board. I believe and trust both of these candidates and I hope you as a taxpayer will cast your vote on May 18 for George Heidcamp and James Steinhilber for Saugerties School Board.
Walter G. Frey Jr.
SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL Are homeowners aware that if the proposed Saugerties school budget passes, taxes will go up 21 percent? Ask yourself if you can afford this. Is it fair that only residents that own homes have to pay school taxes, regardless or not whether they have or ever had children in the school district? Is it fair that you have the right to vote on this budget whether or not you own, or for that matter, have ever owned a home?
In response to the gentleman who at a Saugerties School Board meeting in support of the proposed school budget stated that all homeowners in Saugerties can afford it: how dare he speak for me and others! Maybe he is unaware that there are over 1,000 parcels of unpaid 2009 school taxes for a total of over 2 million dollars and that residents of Saugerties are losing their homes because they cannot afford the taxes!
I am well aware that students need a well rounded education. Why should it solely be the homeowner’s responsibility to fund lacrosse, wrestling, soccer, tennis, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, football, track, golf and tennis? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the parents to fund these sports they want their children to participate in?
Teachers should be ashamed of themselves, in these bleak economic times, for being so greedy and selfish that they weren’t or aren’t willing to negotiate salary or benefits. How are you sleeping nights? Maybe it will be one of their neighbors that will lose their home because of taxes.
In this bleak economic time, it has become necessary to do whatever it takes to give immediate tax relief to homeowners. This may include closing schools (and maybe more than one), laying off teachers, eliminating sports, eliminating full day kindergarten, etc.
I have been in contact with both assembly member Peter Lopez and senator John Bonacic and would like to share with you information on a bill that senator John Bonacic sponsored. Senate bill S.5509 would eliminate the school property tax on primary residences and implement a local tax to finance the local cost of public education.
Justification: the property tax, once modest, is now the single largest impediment to home ownership in New York State. It is a tax based upon feudal times of lords and serfs and denies too many working class New Yorkers the ability to own a home. Moreover, it is fundamentally wrong to force voters to choose between educating their children and being able to afford a home. It is an immoral choice which has fueled cries of outrage for years but has elicited no legislative action to stop massive property tax increases. Income is simply the fairest way to measure wealth and the ability to pay. New York State should give voters the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to implement an optional system of education finance which abolishes the school property tax on homes they live in. It is believed that by abolishing the property tax on primary residences, home ownership will increase and moderate income families will be able to use funds they now pay school taxes with on other consumer goods, thereby increasing sales tax revenue.
Sheldon Silver in standing in the way of the passage of this bill as he represents NYC. NYC schools are funded by a local income tax. If Upstate schools become funded by a local income tax, NYC is afraid they may lose some of their school aid to upstate New York. That is why the legislature, run by Sheldon Silver, will not take this bill into consideration. Since the teachers union is the one of the biggest lobbyists in the state and contributes the most money to the legislators and the senate, maybe they should lobby in support of this bill to ensure its passage along with all the homeowners in upstate New York.
I am strongly opposed to the 21.1 percent increase and definitely will be voting no on May 18 and hope that all homeowners in Saugerties will exercise their right to vote. Wake up Saugerties before it’s too late.
Kathleen Taylor Dugan
HEIDCAMP’S FINAL WORD In five short days, voters will go to the polls and vote on one of the largest tax levy increases in the history of the school district, a whopping 21.1 percent. Voters will also select three candidates for School Board.
I would like to remind the public that there are 13,402 registered voters in the Saugerties School District and over the past four school elections 10,000 of those 13,000 did not vote. I urge voters to contact their neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers and ask them to get out and vote.
Remember, the BoE has extended the voting hours in order to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to vote. The new hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The time has come – Tuesday, May 18, let your voices be heard! This may be your “one and only” chance to vote, so please don’t waste it by sitting this one out.
I’ll take this opportunity to explain a few things. While only one of nine board members, I am the board’s president, and so it’s likely that I’m the main target this year. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that I have done my job to the best of my ability and have nothing of which to be ashamed.
This board’s group is made up of dedicated, hard-working individuals who have been moving in the right direction. In fact, when asked, “Do you think the current BoE is on the right track?” by the Saugerties Times, both Mr. MacIsaac and Mr. Davies expressed their acknowledgement that the current BoE has worked hard and has done the best job possible.
I voted “no” to the adoption of the 21.1 percent tax levy increase (as did fellow board members, Jim Steinhilber and Richard Petramale). While I fully support providing our children with the best possible education we can, I also support the taxpayers who are footing the bill. As I see it, we have an obligation to provide the best possible education for our children that we can afford. Those last words are very important – when I see families losing their homes, jobs, and business, or seniors on fixed incomes struggling to make ends meet, unemployment on the rise, houses with a foreclosure sign on the front lawn or window, and over $2-million dollars in unpaid school taxes, I just can not, in good faith, support such an outlandish tax increase.
Tough decisions had to be made in order to balance what we would like to have with what we can afford to pay for – in other words, we must live within our means. Do I want to see students lose a favorite teacher, extra activities, electives or sports programs? Of course not, but neither do I want to see people already in jeopardy of losing a home or a job, faced with the additional burden of increased school taxes
We are at a very serious crossroad. We are faced with the possibility of a tremendous tax increase, while simultaneously entering contract negotiations with the teachers union. It is not only desirable, it is absolutely essential to have experienced, knowledgeable people on the board at this critical juncture. Nobody is happy about our situation, but if we pull together as a community, we will get through these tough times. Regarding re-election, I have given 110 percent of my time to the cause and my record speaks for itself. If victorious, I pledge that I will faithfully continue to discharge the duties of the office of School Board member to the best of my ability. I will continue to work hard and seek new ways to improve the Saugerties School District to make sure our children get the best education possible and at the same time watch the spending.
In closing, I ask voters to please support incumbents, George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber. There is lots of work to be done and it’s important that we have the right individuals on the board. Every vote counts – please get out and vote. Polls open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday, May 18th. Thank you.
George D Heidcamp Sr.
EDUCATION FIRST I am a retired property owner in the village of Saugerties. As such, I worry about property taxes. More importantly, I am the grandmother of two children in the Saugerties school system and someone who worries about the community I live in. I urge everyone to vote for Mike MacIsaac, Robert Davies, and Mark Thompson for the School Board, and to vote for the budget proposal in the election May 18. We need a School Board whose mission is improvement in the education of our community’s children, and we have to be prepared to sacrifice to provide funding.
Our current board seems more interested in protecting property owners than in finding creative solutions to difficult problems in the school system. As property owners, let us join together to elect state representatives committed to reforming education financing in New York State. As grown-ups in our community, let us join together to elect School Board members committed to the education of our children.
Karen K. Humphrey
INCUMBENT TRUSTEES ARE DEDICATED
I offer the following as a private citizen:
The Saugerties School District is experiencing an unprecedented financial shortfall which has led to a budget proposal of a 21 percent increase to the tax rate; 5.1 percent of this increase is due to the previous business manager expecting two payments of 1.6 million dollars when, in fact, only one payment on the construction project was to be received. Short of an audit of the construction project, the Board of Education had no way of identifying this mistake since only the business manager at the time had access to all the information regarding the disbursements of money for the project.
Another 5.5 percent of the tax increase is due to a reduction in state aid. In addition, 8.1 percent is due to increase in health, retirement and contractual expenses. In summary, over 18 percent of the 21 percent increase in the tax rate is beyond the control of this School Board.
The newly hired administration, made up of superintendent, Seth Turner, assistant superintendent Mike Apostle and business manager Allen Olsen have inherited the daunting task of maintaining a productive educational program with considerably less resources.
The current School Board has met numerous times to keep the public advised of the various proposals the administration and others have brought forward to reduce costs. Board president George Heidcamp and trustees Jim Steinhilber and Mark Thompson have put in countless hours working with the administration and other board members to navigate this financial crisis.
I am not personally acquainted with the new candidates running for the board, but I can say unequivocally that the three incumbent trustees mentioned have proven to be truly dedicated to the task at hand and offer continuity of purpose at a time when it is so needed.
GET INFORMED ABOUT THE NUMBERS
If you are contemplating a “no” vote at the polls on May 18, here’s a few reasons why you might want to reconsider:
Children have one chance at an education.
The amount of money parents will have to spend to round out/supplement their child’s educations if the austerity budget is implemented will be much higher than an increase in their taxes.
The price to send a child to private school if the austerity budget is implemented will be much higher than a property tax increase.
College scouts don’t come to Cantine Field or AYSO games recruiting. They also don’t come to private art or music lessons.
The difference between the 12 percent austerity and 21 percent proposed budget is 9 percent. This 9 percent will save the quality of education for every child in this school district, grades K-12.
Please be informed when you go the polls. Your vote matters.
CHALLENGERS BEST PREPARED TO SOLVE FISCAL PROBLEMS As an involved parent, taxpayer and regular attendee of Saugerties School Board meetings, I recommend Mike MacIsaac, Robert Davies and Mark Thompson for next year’s trustees on the School Board. All three candidates have children in the district, regularly attend board meetings and understand the complexity of our current financial situation. They have shown a balanced view of the cost and benefits of the board’s decisions. I feel they are most able to ease us out of the current crisis.
Please join me in electing MacIsaac, Davies and Thompson this May 18.
HEIDCAMP AND STEINHILBER HAVE NECESSARILY SKILLS, FORTITUDE As most anxious taxpayers in Saugerties, I closely follow the Saugerties School Board. Previous letter writers have commented on the importance of maintaining the proper balance between educating students and the enormous pressures facing property taxpayers in the Saugerties School District. I am voting to re-elect George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber to the School Board because they have proven they can maintain the proper balance.
George and Jim have proven they have the necessary skills and fortitude to lead during these tough times. I urge voters in the Saugerties School District to vote for George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber on May 18.
Joe Roberti Jr.
RE-ELECT HEIDCAMP Vote for George Heidcamp on May 18. This simple statement makes my message very clear: I am asking Saugerties voters to re-elect George Heidcamp because he has worked very hard for the Saugerties school district and taxpayers and has played an integral role in bringing the school district out of the ashes it was left in by the previous administration. George Heidcamp must remain on the board so he can continue his efforts in bringing the school district to where it should be –– providing a quality education for our students in a fiscally responsible manner.
Erica K. F. Guerin
EDUCATION IS PARAMOUNT On May 18, I will: vote yes for our children; vote yes for our community; vote yes for education. I will vote for new ideas and new points of view. I will vote for Mike MacIsaac, Mark Thompson, and Bob Davies. This is the Board of Education, and education should be its first priority.
DON’T CHANGE HORSES IN MIDSTREAM I have known George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber for several years now. Both men have proven to be honorable, dedicated trustees and are deserving of our continued support. Mr. Steinhilber has routinely done exhaustive research and stays well informed. Mr. Heidcamp has proven to be an effective board president. His vast knowledge of policy and contract negotiations will continue to be an invaluable asset in the tough times ahead. His tireless dedication to all matters is a necessity in our future. He is well respected by our NYS School Board legal advisor and speaks with him often.
It would be difficult to be brief about George’s accomplishments as a trustee. George has traveled to Albany to attend various hearings, he collaborates with the administration to establish our agendas every month. He reviews every item on the agenda and comes to each meeting well prepared to answer our questions. George is not without detractors but they have chosen to mostly remain anonymous and spread unsubstantiated rumors. This activity is not productive and serves as an impediment to progress within our district. This is not a time to play politics. It is a time to insure those trusted with the oversight of our school district are doing so with the best interest of our children and taxpayers in mind. We need trustees that are willing to invest many hours of their time in the success of our district. George and Jim have proven over the last three years to be dedicated individuals that take their roles as trustee seriously and put in many hours on behalf of the community. The matters before this board require continuity or we risk further pain whilst new trustees come up to speed. Please elect Jim Steinhilber and George Heidcamp to the Saugerties School Board on May 18.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
The town of Saugerties is not unique in its quest to balance services to the community and relief for the taxpayer. Saugerties has shown the courage to “think outside of the box” in order to create new approaches to old problems.
Most recently, supervisor Greg Helsmoortel along with a unanimous non-partisan vote of the Town Board passed a resolution to enter into negotiations with the county to establish a shared services agreement for snow removal and light maintenance on county roads within Saugerties. Obviously any intermunicipal agreement will be dependent on economic savings for both the town and the county.
Recently, through a Saugerties village referendum, voters chose to dissolve the village police force and integrate it within the town’s police department. This solution will create savings for the taxpayer without compromising the safety of our residents.
Saugerties is now faced with the dilemma within our school system of providing an excellent education for our students without draconian tax increases that put our homeowners in financial jeopardy. It is very important that citizens vote on May 18, but voting on the school budget, and for School Board candidates is simply not enough. There needs to be a town-wide call for action that continues to bring together all the stakeholders; students, parents, taxpayers, teachers, school administrators and the board of education with the understanding that we are all in the same sinking boat and a new level of “give and take” is crucial if long-lasting solutions are to be reached.
We can no longer afford to let municipal boundaries, political ideology or narrow interests guide our governmental decision-making. Innovation and creativity combined with pragmatism must rule the day.
Chair, Saugerties Democratic Committee
I would like to share a few excerpts from the New York State Office of Real Property Services Assessor’s Manual, specifically the section on Data Collection and Maintenance of Property Inventories for residential, farm and vacant properties. The document can be viewed in its entirety online at: http://www.orps.state.ny.us/assessor/manuals/vol6/rfv/pdf_files/rfv01.pdf.
1. COLLECTION PROCEDURE
The data collector is vital to the successful completion of a revaluation or annual
reassessment program where physical reinspection is required.
1.3 GENERAL PROCEDURE
Every effort will be made to collect and record an accurate description of all parcels to be collected. Information must be derived from careful on-site inspection of all parcels, including vacant land.
Contact - Immediately upon arrival make an attempt to contact the occupant.
Introduce yourself and show your identification. State your purpose and ask for permission to inspect the building. Take information from adults only. Do not enter the residence unless accompanied by an adult. If an adult family member is not home, leave a message as to when you will return, or how an adult may contact someone for an appointment. Never go through a building without permission. If no one is on the premises at the time of visitation, one return visit must be made either after 6 P.M. or on Saturday. If after two attempts no one was found at the premises, or after one attempt where entry was refused, notification should be sent to the owner providing him an opportunity to schedule an appointment for collection of interior information.
Refusal - If you are not allowed to conduct an interior inspection, attempt to get as much information about the building as possible from the occupant. Request permission to measure and inspect the exterior of the building site. An attempt should also be made to obtain a signature noting the refusal.
Ask the occupant for permission to inspect the interior. If permission is given, request that the occupant accompanies you through the house. Do not proceed alone.
Prior to leaving you should attempt to secure a signature from the person.
Explain that the signature does not constitute agreement with what was collected but merely means that the person allowed entrance and witnessed the inspection of the property. Thank the person for his/her cooperation and then conduct your exterior inspection.
Once again the Town Board has failed to provide a compliant, competent, and fair revaluation. The same names, the same results, just a new Guessessor! Nobody knocked on my door! Nobody called for an appointment after 6 p.m. or Saturday! I did not sign the papers! How about you?
CHILDREN HELPING CHILDREN
In behalf of Children Helping Children Across Borders I would like to commend our children and schools for reaching out with love and compassion for the children in need in Haiti. We have asked our schools in the Onteora, Kingston, Saugerties, Marbletown, Rosendale, Ellenville districts to help over 400 orphans from 5 orphanages in Haiti...and the response has been overwhelming. We have asked this of our schools and children in times of our own struggle with budgets being cut and important programs being lost. I thank the schools that have reached out to help and look forward to those schools that will be joining us in the future.
We have high hope that even more schools will join the vision, that each one of us can make a difference in the lives of these orphans in Haiti.
The Woodstock Day School/Woodstock Elementary combined raised $2400 with a penny Harvest under the banner of Change For Haiti. Woodstock Elementary is also hosting a after school Peace Pack Day. The children will decorate a back pack and fill it with donated arts and crafts, books, toys etc.
Bennett Elementary has hosted a shoe drive and has collected over 200 pairs.
Chambers Elementary School from Kingston City School district, for Valentine’s Day, did a Hearts4Haiti message exchange and raise $650. The 3rd and 4th graders decided to use the money to help rebuild the Furcy School.
Rondout Valley High School’s French club went out to the community for an evening at Marbletown Elementary School with food, music and good cheer, and $2,815 was raised. This money was sent to the ELT School in Petionville.
Rosendale Elementary School’s second grade raised $285. Their 4th grade class did a bake sale that raised $485. Ellenville High School’s Key Club did a carnival that raised almost $1,000.
Early on in January Phoenicia Elementary school raised several hundred dollars. Phoenicia Elementary will also be creating a pen pal program.
The Children’s Center on SUNY New Paltz campus has agreed to get involved by doing a “Craft day for Haiti”. They will have each of the three classrooms (one for the two-year olds, three year-olds and four year-olds) help assemble simple ornaments, then will be responsible for selling them to raise money for HPSP.
Cahill Elementary will be sending Friendship Bags created by the students which will include t-shirts, toys, crayons, books etc. Cahill has already raised over $2,000 for Haiti, following the earthquake. It has also collected over 300 books for the organization Li, Li, Li, which sends volunteers to Haiti to read to the orphans.
All of the money and donated items from all of the schools is being sent to Haiti by Pierre and Terry Leroy the founders of the Haitian Support Project. Their love, dedication and tireless effort has made all of this possible. Please visit their web site if you would like more information at www.haitiansupportproject.org.
Thanks again to all of the children who have reached out with love and compassion!