School Budgets Meet Mixed Results in NY

School officials on Long Island are breathing a sigh of relief this morning after budgets passed in all but 10 districts.  In those towns, taxes were a driving force for those who voted "no."

Voters across the state cast ballots Monday on everything from taxes to school budgets. According to the state's school board association, the average tax increase schools are seeking is around three percent, and that the proposed budget represents the lowest spending increase in five years.

Up for approval were budgets that total $31.7 billion, about $500 million more than last year, according to the New York State School Boards Association.

On Long Island, taxes in Wyandanch would have risen 13-percent if the budget would have passed there. Port Jefferson, Westbury, West Babylon, Elwood, Erricks, Garden City, Levittown, east Rockaway and West Hempstead were the towns that also rejected the budget.

In Westchester, Mount Vernon, Pocantico Hills, Katonah and Ossining also voted down the budgets.

"I think parents are worried about perpetual tax increases one year to the next," said Westchester parent Lee Mingione. "One might wonder in 10 years whether they're going to have enough money to pay the increases on top of the increases."

The votes came as lawmakers in Albany met for the first time in more than a month to discuss the state's overdue budget.

Gov. David Paterson, struggling to close a $9 billion budget deficit, is asking the state legislature to delay a $1.5 billion payment in school aid, a spokesman said on Monday.

Paterson has proposed pushing back the statutory due date for making a $3.6 billion school aid payment -- now due by June 1 -- to June 30.

The state will pay schools $2.1 billion on June 1 and the balance, $1.5 billion, a month later, according to the governor's plan, state budget office spokesman Matt Anderson said.


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