Letters to the Editor: East Rockaway, Lynbrook

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What drives up school taxes? School spending.

To the Editor:
School tax bills recently arrived and, once again, we all learned that school districts are spending too much and taxing too high.
As county executive, I have worked tirelessly to cut government waste and freeze county property taxes every year. I have also been commended by New York state for cost-cutting measures that resulted in no tax hike for residents. To blame school tax hikes on the county is wrong.
My opponent, Tom Suozzi, has misled residents about their school taxes and assessments. The truth is that I encourage all residents to fight their taxes and grieve their home assessments if they believe they are unfair. Tom Suozzi believes that homeowners shouldn’t have this right. I understand his position, considering he hiked your
county property taxes by 23 percent and watched school taxes skyrocket by 84 percent — an average of $3,036 per household — during his tenure.
In lockstep with my opponent, Newsday calls filing assessment challenges a “grievance game.” In fact, the right to challenge an assessment or to take advantage of a property tax exemption is guaranteed under state law; it isn’t a game.
I find it a bit disconcerting that some politicians attempt to blame me for the school property tax increases that result because a homeowner exercises his or her right to challenge an assessment or to file for a property tax exemption. It seems that if it were up to them, even the victims of Hurricane Sandy shouldn’t benefit from having a lower assessment or paying lower property taxes.
I understand that there are a number of mitigating financial factors that can negatively impact a school district’s budget. What cannot be ignored are the facts that school district spending goes up every year (which accounts for over 67 percent of a homeowner’s average tax bill), and it is that spending that has drained the wallets of our overtaxed and frustrated homeowners.
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