It’s often said that government budgets are a reflection of society’s values and that’s certainly true of the proposed Massapequa school budget.
Voters will head to the polls on May 17 to either approve or vote down the $179 million spending plan and there are a number of important issues that will be on the minds of Massapequans as they cast their ballot.
Some will be concerned about rising taxes in a budget that contains a 1.64 percent tax hike. Others will be concerned about making sure area students are given the best possible programs and education. There are those who will base their vote on spending, salaries for teachers and administrators or how the budget effects property values.
Recently, Patch went out and spoke to a cross section of area residents at the about what issues are important to them. It’s not intended to be a scientific sampling of all the voices out there and we certainly want to hear your opinion.
Rosanne Wattaul, 51, a teacher who no longer has children in the district says she’s of two minds about increasing school taxes. “I have sympathies on both sides,” she said. “I understand the reasons for the increase and you don’t want to take anything away from the kids and you want to keep class sizes low. But I’m a teacher and you know what we live on. I don’t think what we make is astronomical.”
Donna Caneda, 47, is also a teacher, who has worries about keeping her job and making ends meet. She has two children in the school system and one child in Catholic school. “I guess in my position, I hope it passes,” she said. “I’m a kindergarten support specialist, but as a homeowner I’m paying $20,000 in taxes and my home is not near the water. I guess I want [the budget] to pass, because I don’t want to see teachers lose their jobs. I haven’t heard anything about my job, I’m pretty sure we’re safe but you never know.”
George Borden, 84, is retired and doesn’t have any kids in the system, but he does believe in the importance of a public education. He’s lived in Massapequa for 31 years and also lived in Plainedge where he’s seen budgets voted down. “You have to provide services to kids and unfortunately that means large takes,” he said. “ The few times there was an austerity budget, they cut such an infinitesimal amount, it wasn’t worth it. I’m for supporting kids, as much as I hate like hell to pay taxes, it’s necessary.”
Jerry Peluso, 62, is in an economically vulnerable position and worries bout how rising taxes will affect his future. “The taxes are high,” he said. “I’m between jobs and close to retirement age and if things don’t get better, I might have to leave. Taxes should be lowered or salaries should drop. “
Paul Hesleitner, 51, is a chemistry teacher at Massapequa High School “I’m in favor of it, and not just because I’m a teacher he said. “They kept increases down to a minimum and I think the stability and success of the school system already brings value. As for taxes going up, at half the rate of inflation, I don’t think it’s so bad. I don’t think the price of gas has gone up at that rate.”
Romeo Camaisa, 91, served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Now, he’s long retired and every penny counts. “I have a veterans exemption. It applies to county taxes and town taxes but not for school taxes,” he said. “ I’ve had to give up giving to my charities. I’m sick and I’m on a fixed income. If taxes go up more, I’m out of contention.”