The Cazenovia School Board and administration are to be commended for the exceptional efforts they have made during the past two years to rein in spending in the face of millions of dollars of lost state and federal aid.
Their judicious cuts, in partnership with concessions from each of the school’s bargaining units, have kept increases in local taxes to an average of approximately one percent per year.
The unfortunate reality is that there is virtually no “fat” left and the cuts contemplated for this year and beyond strike at the muscle and bone of positions and programs essential to our children’s future.
The purpose of the local tax levy limit enacted by our state government was to control excessive growth in taxation and make New York more competitive.
The tragic, unintended consequence for school districts and local governments like Cazenovia that were already “living within their means” with little fat to cut has been to threaten our long-term health and viability.
Blindly accepting the local limits suggested by the state (while they simultaneously reduce aid and shift unfunded mandates to local governments) will devastate our municipal infrastructure and our children’s preparation for the future at a time when we should be increasing investment in these two critical areas.
Eight months ago, the village of Cazenovia rejected this cynical mentality and refused to accept that the Clark Street bridge remain closed, leaving a dangerous gap in our local transportation network. Our residents supported us as we pursued a creative, collaborative approach to replace this essential infrastructure.
I’m proud to report that on March 12, crews began to remove the old decking and a new bridge will be in service by May 1, less than a year after it was closed.
I believe that when our citizens understand the issues involved, they will be equally supportive of the school and our children. Based on the complex formula mandated by the state, Cazenovia Central Schools’ local levy limit is only 1.6 percent. This percentage will generate about $250,000 — less than one-third the amount lost to reductions in state and federal aid this year alone.