| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    To the editor: What happens when your vehicle breaks down depends on where you are. I recently had an ignition switch fail, just after getting my oil changed at Warwick Car Wash. The key wouldn't turn. After repeated attempts, Rich from Warwick Car Wash tried a number of things and unfortunately had the same results. What defines customer service? Rich could have left me on my own to figure out what to do, but not Rich. He arranged to have my vehicle towed and scheduled the repair with Bill at Country Chevy (who did an excellent, timely repair job). Abandoned, Rich then drove me home. This is what truly defines the ultimate in Customer Service and should be an example to all area businesses. You can bet that Warwick Car Wash and Country Chevy will have a devoted customer in me. Mike Wilson Warwick To the editor: As a young boy growing up in Brooklyn, my friends and I passed many an idle summer's day playing stickball in the local public school yard. The games were always fun, even when the inevitable "controversial" play occurred. For example, a pitcher who felt that he had struck out the opposing batter might not find enough chalk from the strike zone on the ball to justify his claim. Arguments ensued and the game would be delayed while the matter was sorted out. Such bones of contention would usually be settled by both teams agreeing to a "do-over," giving the batter a second chance. As children, we always look for, and in most cases are given "do-overs." Such second chances can help us to prepare for the responsibilities of adult life in many ways. However, in the adult world, there are a great many areas in which "do-overs" have no place. I submit that election issues crucial to a community are examples of such issues. The Warwick Valley School Board seems to be playing "stickball politics" with the controversial issue of the new school budget. In a democracy, the people, by definition, are the ones who are called upon to choose. The School Board has presented the new school budget to the people for their approval or rejection. Last month, the people chose to reject it. The result of the vote, although not an overwhelming mandate, is nonetheless a valid and binding one, since only a simple majority was required. The School Board, in its dissatisfaction with this result, has in effect declared a "do-over. " On June 23rd, 2005, the matter will again be brought before the Warwick voters in an election that is an unnecessary waste both of School Board resources and of voters' time. It is time, once and for all, that we the voters show our dissatisfaction with the School Board's willingness to place increasingly heavier burdens on the increasingly overburdened Warwick taxpayer. On June 23rd, be sure to let the Warwick Valley School Board know how you feel. Let them know that you are tired of them playing "schoolyard" games with the school budget. It's time to stop the "do-overs!" Robert Borch Warwick To the editor: In response to B. Allan's letter, "Sports are NOT what are our educational system should be paying for:" Allan writes, "Mike, you just don't get it, and that's OK - you're a high school junior." Allan demeans a person's intelligence based on age. Mike understands perfectly, his letter was eloquently written and it did a good job of explaining his point of view. As for Allan's letter, it's an abyss of nonsense. Allan writes, "You have neighbors who are wrestling with ways to fund their kids' college education because of the cost of living in Warwick, largely due to school taxes." The reason these kids are in college is because of school taxes. In order to be accepted into a college/ university, a student must due well in high school. In order for students to excel in high school they need resources, which come from taxes. Allan is also generous enough to bestow on us his knowledge of the classroom, "they promote small class size when the secret to learning is parental motivation and good teachers, not class size." I agree parental motivation and teachers are very important to learning, but so is class size. If a class has 45 students, how many questions can a student ask? How many can he/she answer? The closer you can get to one on one learning the better. Allan sums up his letter by announcing, "They offered a budget proposal, it was fairly defeated, and they won't take ‘No' for an answer. Mike, you don't get it, but you're a kid and that's you're excuse." Hey, Allan, the budget is up for a revote on June 23. So, who doesn't get it? Matthew Connors Warwick To the editor: Unfortunately what most people fail to realize is that a "no" vote will NOT reduce taxes. Even on an austerity budget, taxes will increase almost 5 percent. The only people hurt by a "no" vote will be the Warwick community and its children. If the people of Warwick really want to make a difference, they should address their angry letters to their state representatives and DEMAND that they increase funding for education and pay for the programs they mandate. Personally, I would like to thank the School Board for making the Warwick Valley Schools one of the best in the state and for providing our children with a wide range of opportunities that will benefit them throughout their lifetime. It is time to show our support vote YES June 23rd. Jodi Denmead Warwick To the editor: The family of Kurt Eppendorfer Jr. wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone for your prayers, cards and contributions during Kurt's recovery from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Kurt Jr. has a long road ahead to a full recovery. American flag hats are available for a $10 donation to help defray the cost of medical expenses arising from Kurt Eppendorfer Jr.'s surgery from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Kurt Eppendorfer Sr. Warwick The budget by the numbers To the editor: I am writing in response to the Warwick School Board's decision to re-submit the School Budget - with no reductions - for a re-vote on Thursday, June 23. The voters said NO. The message the board is sending to the community is dismissive at best. If you haven't picked up a copy of the complete budget, here are a few items that may interest the tax payers: • Requested total budget increase is more than $5 million. That's a nearly 8 percent increase in spending, with NO CHANGE in enrollment. Like most school districts and municipalities everywhere, the board looks at last year's total and ADD to it instead of delving into each line and seeing what can be REDUCED. • To broach a politically incorrect subject, the line item increases for Special Education and Special Needs children totals nearly $1.5 million. That is a greater than 16 percent increase in spending, with NO CHANGE in enrollment. (Of course Special Ed and equipment and materials for disabled children is needed. Nobody would question that, but why so expensive?) • Total spending for Special Ed and Special Needs is $8.8 million right now. The School Board is asking to up that amount to $10.2 million. That's a lot of money. • While we're looking at "special" kids, let's look at the line item for Gifted and Talented in relation to the above numbers. Total amount requested, with no increase next year, is $1,000 - for the whole district. Aren't we trying to compete in a global marketplace? We should have more available for our high-IQ kids. • The board uses misleading numbers such as this gem: "If the budget is defeated, it would only result in a tax reduction of $9 per month on a home assessed at $40,000." How many people do you know living in $40,000 homes in Warwick? The School Board's scare tactics are shameful. The board threatens half-day kindergarten, which I'm quite sure could lead to a revolt by Warwick parents! Let's stop looking at the bottom line and look at each line to see if we can eliminate waste. That is the responsible thing to do. Cameron Diltz Farruggia Chester ‘A darned shame to cut these kids off' To the editor: Ag Education at Warwick Valley High School could be in jeopardy again. It's one of those courses like art or music or full-day Kindergarten that is not mandated by the Board of Regents. An austerity budget could wipe it out. There are more than 250 students enrolled in Mrs. Colgan's Ag classes, and it would be a darned shame to cut these kids off from one of the most valuable learning processes in the school. I strongly urge every parent and friend of a parent of an Ag student to vote "yes" on the budget. Seymour Gordon, Chair Warwick Valley H.S. Ag Advisory Board To the editor: Why doesn't the school board understand the word no? I have lived in Warwick for 11 years and I am tired of paying high school taxes. Since when do you need sports and all the other extra curricular things to get a good education? A good education comes from good teachers and good parents who help there kids get the best education that they can. Putting the budget up again sets a bad example for the kids. All it tells them is no doesn't mean no; it means we don't like that answer, let's try it again. I also think that school taxes should be based on whether you have kids in the district and how many. If parents want all the extras for their kids then let them pay for it. And if the schools are too small because the town is growing, then that's another issue that has to be addressed. Stop building! There are enough people selling their houses to keep people coming in to the town. People of Warwick need to come out even stronger and tell the school board that no does mean no. Mary Jones Warwick To the editor: Over the last four years have you had a 36 percent salary increase? I think NOT. Yet this is the increase of school taxes from the tax years 2000 to 2004. And what is proposed for this coming tax year but another 7.79 percent increase. As the Times Herald-Record of May 27th stated in "a move that could teach its students to never give up," perhaps a better lesson could be taught in that responsible adults "need to live within their budget." I find Superintendent Natale's response to the rejection of the Warwick School budget very disappointing. Instead of accepting the voters' rejection of the school budget and looking to cut surplus from the budget, he threatens the parents with dire consequences if they don't accept his proposal. While I congratulate the Warwick School District and teachers for the wonderful job they do, I think it is time that the School Board realizes that the people in their district don't have unlimited funds. Therefore, I propose the following guide for each voter: if over the last four years, you have had a 36 percent salary increase, then vote yes for a further 7.79 percent increase in the school budget. But if like me you have NOT, then vote NO on June 23. Bruce Marshall Chester To the editor: I'm not a longtime resident of the Village or Town of Warwick (four plus years) but this has to be the only place in America where if you don't like the results an election, there is a re-vote. The first year it was an interesting quirk; but every single year! This is nuts AND un-American. Sorry, one side had fewer votes but it was a fair vote. How come there is never a re-vote for mayor or town trustee? Kevin M. Murphy Warwick ‘Equalize the responsibility to educate our children' To the editor: I am writing re: the letter stating that taxes are driving residents out of Warwick. I agree but the type of taxes that are driving people out of Warwick are the school taxes. The town taxes give you not only snow removal but police services, recycling, repair and maintenance of the roads, mowing along roadways, etc. But the school taxes give a prep school education to average students. This would be wonderful if we could afford it but there are many people with only average incomes and/or fixed incomes that can't afford to pay teachers for their losses in the stock market. Yes, you read this last sentence correctly. The State of New York requires us to make-up for the losses in the pension funds, due to losses in the stock market, even though this does not happen to anyone else who suffered losses for the same reason, in their retirement plans. I have no children in school and I would like us to institute a program that would help to equalize the responsibility of educating "our children." Since most people, even those with the McMansions, don't even finance one child in school, I think that families with more than two children should pay a surcharge for the extra burden they place on our school system. Tom Owen Warwick ‘Reality TV' and the school budget To the editor: OK, for those of you talking about my letter to the editor concerning the school budget, here is what I will say: First, as an American, I am exercising my right to freedom of speech. I can say how I am going to vote for whatever I am voting on. Second, I know that the students in this district are mainly concerned with what is going on in their lives right now. It is mostly to enjoy their high school days or whatever. However, when you get out into the REAL WORLD, and you have a lot of bills to pay and a certain amount of money in that budget in which to pay those bills, you will see why the taxpayers are against any raise in their taxes. In the working world, you will see that your pay DOESN'T increase every year like your taxes and other bills do. So you have to cut out what is not necessary in the expense category. I am sorry that we can't always get what we want in life. But welcome to "reality TV." I don't get a new car every year just because I may put a lot of miles on it. I can't play golf seven days a week just because I love to play it. I have to work ... like every one else in this life to get what I want. There is no reason why this school board cannot cut out and trim this budget. We have to start living within the means of what people in this town can AFFORD. We cannot afford anymore increases. We need to start cutting out the waste in the schools. We need to find ways to raise money for the EXTRA things that kids want. Utilize the Alumni Association to kick in some money to help out the students ... have golf outings or whatever it takes as a way to give back. The taxpayers have run out of money. In fact, some of them have been run out of town because they can't afford to live here anymore. It is time to say "enough is enough." Stop the waste and the kids will have money to do what they want to do. Don't blame the taxpayers for speaking up when they don't want to pay anymore. Blame your school board for not finding ways to cut out the waste. I will say this again: I will NEVER vote yes for this school budget until it is presented with a HUGE decrease in the amount they are asking for. VOTE NO! Joanne Pascal Warwick To the editor: How arrogant of the Warwick Board of Education to put the same budget up for a vote, that was initially voted down? What an insult it is to the intelligence of the voters of this town. Whether the budget was defeated by 1 or 100 votes, it was still defeated. When is" no" ever going to mean "no?" How dare they threaten this town with cutting back the Kindergarten to half day and increasing class sizes, without even a mention of the possibility of cutting administration or finding a more creative approach to spending. What is more important, education or sports? Perhaps those who participate in the sports programs should be responsible for a portion of the cost? More and more people who grew up in this town are being forced to sell their homes because they are being "taxed" out. We expect excellence from our teachers and students; why shouldn't we expect it from the Board of Education. Send them a message that we are tired of having the budget rammed down our throats. Mary Pohlman Warwick To the editor: Five reasons to vote no on the school budget on June 23: 1. Our taxes will go up yet again after a double digit increase last year. 2. Most of the items these tax increases will fund are for extra auricular activities: lacrosse, band, orchestra, etc. 3. If you are the parent of a child participating in one of these activities and plan on voting yes, consider this: your child will be in school for a limited number of years. Taxes are forever. 4. If you are considering voting yes, remember, when you go to sell your home (possibly because you've been forced out by higher taxes) the added tax burden will make it less attractive to potential buyers. Therefore, in all likelihood you will have to lower the price. You will in effect be paying twice for your yes vote - once in higher taxes and again when you go to sell. 5. A NO vote will send the message to the school board that "no does in fact mean no" and not to insult the people of Warwick by again putting up a budget that has already been voted down. Sincerely, Carolyn E. Rappa Warwick ‘Here's some ideas for you' To the editor: Aren't you people fed up with this yet? The school board does this every year. They tell us that they want our opinion and when we give it to them they just ignore it and tell us that they don't think we are smart enough to have one because we don't agree with them. We voted down the budget. Now they are going to put up the same budget without any changes. This is nothing short of a slap in the face. The first words out of the superintendent's mouth is a threat: "HALF DAY KINDERGARTEN." What they are doing is threatening the young people that just moved in. How about we come right back at them and tell them to enjoy their term on the board because if they don't change the budget we'll change the board. The new superintendent should know that we want a say in what happens and we want it to count. The board should realize that we want more than a rubber stamp as a president. Think about this. Why cut things that we already have? Why not just stop adding on things that have not been necessary in the past and are not necessary at this time. For instance an Administrator of Fine Arts. When was the last time you saw an administrator of anything do his own paper work? So add on another secretary. They talk about a varsity lacrosse team as tough it is just one team they want to add on. It isn't. If you have a varsity team you are going to need a junior varsity and then a modified team. That's three, OK. We are not finished yet, because if we have a boys lacrosse team we, according to law, have to offer the same to the girls. Again, not just a varsity but a junior varsity and a modified. That brings the total to six teams. The productions that are put on by the school have been very good. So do really need and orchestra leader? Plus part-time band leaders? Here's an idea that you, the board, might not have thought of: Instead of cutting things we already have, how about you just don't add on things that are not necessary. You want another idea? How about the teachers start paying into their insurance. Even as little as $10 a month would help. You say you are here for the children then back it up and sacrifice a little so the children can have more. We are mandated to give them insurance but there is nothing that says we have to pay for the whole package. Want more? Since everyone is concerned about the seniors, how about seniors, who have paid taxes all their lives and are now being taxed out of their own homes, catch a break and receive a discount on their taxes. Let's say that after they become a senior citizen, they would only have to continue paying the same amount and never receive a raise in their taxes. Remember this also: The library tax comes on the same bill as the school tax and they want to spend another $8 million for that. That is not town taxes - it is school district taxes. Paul Shust Warwick ‘When money talks, majority rules walks' To the editor: The many letter writers said it all: How come the negative voters for the school budget don't get a second vote when the a yes-vote takes it? That, my friends, is Warwick majority rule in action. We have become a town with a lot of money and to paraphrase, when money talks, majority rule walks. If you didn't take the time to cast your no vote in May, then you are responsible for the increases in the school budget. Very simple. And when you can't afford your home or your discretionary income disappears, it is because you didn't take the time from your busy schedule to say no. You want a pretty village with flowerpots on every corner, you will pay for it. Government will give us anything we want, if we pay for it. This school board doesn't give a good hoot how many seniors and middle class people have to sell their homes. Heck, seniors complain. Get rid of em! Down with complainers! We continuously believe those people we elect to the school board when they say they will keep costs down. They don't and won't and we will probably reelect them. We do deserve our government. Joseph Stanaitis Warwick ‘Ever revote a yes vote' To the editor: The school budget did not pass after weeks of the school system threatening an austerity budget. The board made it clear that the voters only had a say on maybe 5 percent of the budget - 95 percent is already been written into state law or contracts so no budget vote could change it. Voters asked for the 5 percent reduction; the board scheduled a revote with no adjustments. I think the school board has a good idea: Next year if either side can get 15 voters to agree either that some voters did not know what they were doing or not enough voters voted, then we revote. Ever revote a yes? Maybe it is time we did. Jim Sutton Warwick Revote is the ‘warping of the will of the majority' To the editor: The school budget revote is an absolute affront to voters and to our system of democracy. Whether or not the budget vetoed by voters is appropriate is NOT the issue. The issue is the warping of the will of the majority at the hands of a disgruntled minority. Putting the same exact budget up for a second vote serves to disenfranchise those who dutifully exercised their franchise by voting in the first election. If all those who were disappointed by the first set of results had deemed it important enough initially, they would have turned out to vote the first time around. The school board may be upset by the results but really, that's too darn bad. Holding a second election because some were upset by the results of the first sets a dangerous precedent in our democracy. Should those on the defeated side of an election ALWAYS have the right to a re-vote? If so, the business of government at all levels would come screeching to a halt. Fair is fair. If there are some who feel discouraged, let the sting of this defeat spur you toward greater activism in advance of the next vote important to you. Lastly, let me also say that in a community as affluent and burgeoning as ours, it seems downright miserly to me that those with the greatest interest in the school system (read: parents of school-age kids) would not step up to the plate with private contributions to support extracurriculars. When my son is old enough to attend school, I will certainly be involved in supporting arts and athletics programs even if the funding is absent from the school budget. The bottom line is simply that the school system and the taxpayer should only be forced to shoulder so much of the overall cost of raising the children in our community. It seems obvious that those with children should take more personal responsibility. They should feel obligated to personally address any shortfalls in the publicly funded system that benefits their children directly. This community voted once and that should be enough! Anthony Vitiello Warwick Keeping ‘unity in community' To the editor: I am proud to announce that the newly forming NY Chapter of the Twilight Wish Foundation has successfully granted 19 wishes to residents at Mt. Alverno Center. I would like to thank the following, as the outstanding support of our community has made wishes come true: the Law Office of Stage, Nathans and Ziobro, the Toy Chest, Corwins Florist, the Landmark Inn, the Black Forest Restaurant, Issy and Family from Calvary Christian Academy, Diane Melnick, Arlene Hickey, Maggie Schmick, the Guerrido Family and all the others who have helped. If you or someone you know is a senior who has a wish that they would like the foundation to consider, simply fill out the brief application downloadable at www.twilightwishfoundation.org, or contact them directly at 1-877-TWF-WISH to have an application mailed to you. This not-for-profit organization grants wishes to senior citizens and relies on donations and community support. Donations can be mailed directly to T.W.F., PO Box 1042, Doylestown, PA, 18901. For more info. On the newly forming chapter, please call Laura Vreeland at (845) 988-9355. Please support the businesses named above, as their continuing generosity is what keeps the unity in community.Thank you. Laura M. Vreeland Warwick To the editor: We live in financially trying times, not just within the Warwick school system, but throughout the economic web of our country. Corporations are outsourcing services, workers are being laid off, salaries cut and even pensions are now threatened. So it's not surprising that the Warwick school system is also feeling the financial pressures of the times. The question is how to remedy the financial issues without damaging the quality of education in our school system, or placing undue pressure on the taxpayers. Rather than meeting to discuss a second school budget vote, the School Board's meeting could have been better utilized by looking at its current budget and studying what the business world is doing to survive these days. After all, a 69 million dollar school budget is no longer just a "school budget," it's a corporation, and should be managed like one. Financially responsible to it's shareholders (i.e. the taxpayers of Warwick), but more importantly, financially creative in its budget utilization, just like every other corporation (and taxpayer) is doing today to survive. In today's economic turbulence, businesses don't have the luxury of just asking for another few million dollars when the budget gets tight. They're expected to get the most mileage from the budget they have by implementing creative business solutions. When the corporation I work for was threatened with bankruptcy two years ago, its management team created an incentive-based program for employees to submit ideas to help the company save money. A billion dollar corporation utilizing clever dollar-saving ideas that added up to save the company millions ... just one example of creative thinking in action. The school budget vote of May 17 sent a message to the school board that the taxpayers of Warwick are tax-fatigued. Clearly half of the voters didn't support a budget increase at our expense. Residents are tired of their property taxes increased by a school board that seems to feel the only solution to a budget crisis is to foster feelings of "voter guilt" by threatening to cut school programs, instead of looking for creative solutions to their budget shortfall. Be thankful you're a school board and not a corporation; with that operational mode, you would have been in bankruptcy by now. The School Board and students of our community have to learn to make due and stretch a buck, pay for it themselves, or do without. Welcome to Real Life 101. We're voting no against the budget again and encourage our neighbors to do the same. Kevin and Sue Walsh Warwick To the editor: I'd like for you to think about the amount you paid in Warwick school taxes in 2004. Now, double this amount and you will see what you will be paying in school taxes in the year 2010 if school taxes continue to increase at the historical rate. That's right - a 12 percent average annual tax increase (as we have seen over the past several years) will cause your taxes to double every six years. This means that if you have a child in Kindergarten in the 2004-2005 school year, your school taxes will be quadruple (four times) what they were in 2004 when this child graduates high school. Something needs to be done quickly. Regardless of what you have been told, large annual tax increases are not a sign of a superior school system, they are the sign of fiscal irresponsibility. Assuming an annual inflation rate of 3 percent, it is costing an average of percent more annually to educate our children. The fact that we need to cut existing programs (we are told) to manage a budget within the range of inflation screams of waste and unmonitored spending. As taxpayers, we should all be irate at the fact we are being viewed as a bottomless pocket. How do I know there is a problem? I have worked for a predominant global corporation in the area of operational cost management (reduction) for over 11 years. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have been told "it can't be done ..." or "there is no way to do more with less...." Believe me, it can be done, I've seen it happen, it just takes effort. Cutting programs (quality) is not the solution. All this does is provides a lower level of service while leaving the root cause of the original problem (spending) untouched. The true solution lies in identifying and eliminating redundancy and waste in the current processes. I have seen a lot of information on how the school board plans to spend our additional tax dollars next year. However, I have not seen any information on cost management initiatives for the future. The fact of the matter is that there are no plans or initiatives in place to begin analyzing costs, only plans for continued increased spending. Until someone puts a stake in the ground and decides that we must reduce or even stabilize spending without sacrificing quality, we will continue in the current downward spiral. We need reform. We need a school board administration who will view the school district as a business, an administration which is accountable to the stakeholders, the taxpayers. What will be the consequence of continued tax increases? Basic economics tells us that the higher our taxes climb, the less our properties will be worth. Potential buyers can only afford to pay a certain amount each month between a mortgage and taxes. The higher the taxes, the less they have to spend on a mortgage payment. With less money to spend on a mortgage, the less they will be able to spend on a property. Buyers will be forced to buy in more affordable towns. Demand for properties in Warwick will decline, there will be an excess supply of properties and prices will decline as well. Given the historical rate of tax increases, property in Warwick is quickly becoming a bad investment. School taxes can be brought under control, but only if the school board administration is willing or forced to address the root cause of the problem - spending. We need a school board administration that values the quality of education they provide to our children while at the same time holds a sense of responsibility for managing our tax dollars. We need to send a clear message to the administration that we will no longer accept huge tax increases each year. We need to soundly defeat the budget in the revote on June 23rd. Going forward, we need to elect board members who are dedicated to providing a continued high quality of education to our children while at the same time understand the importance of cost management and the implications of continued tax increases. Robert A. Weiss Warwick To the editor: On June 23, I will vote "no" on the school budget re-vote. I never gave school budgets much thought, but over the years I've been increasingly concerned by this issue. I always thought that an issue is put on the ballot and the voters vote to decide the issue. In Warwick, however, the school board puts the budget on the ballot and if the budget is voted down, the board keeps requesting re-votes until it is passed and the board gets their desired increase in revenue. Is this responsible government or bully tactics? Does the school board have any concept of fiscal restraint in management or any concern for financial responsibility to the community it serves? The fact is families are beginning to leave Warwick because of the tax burden which continues to increase at a substantial rate. I became involved with school officials regarding a minor issue. From low-level staff to a principal, the responses I received to my inquiries were pompous and arrogant. In one phone call school staff was rude. Have school officials in Warwick forgotten their responsibility to serve all the parents and students in the community? I have formed the opinion that Warwick schools believe they will receive whatever monies they desire to meet the demands of the elite. School officials must be reminded that their responsibility is to meet the educational needs of all students and is the community's responsibility to ensure that this responsibility is met. It is the community's responsibility to ensure that our limited financial resources are being used in the most effective and efficient way through fiscally responsible operating policies and procedures that incorporate the educational needs of all our students. A "no" vote on the school budget is the only way to ensure a responsible school board. Larry Arato Warwick