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Letter: It’s About Consequences

I had to re-stake the  ‘NO NO NO’ sign at the Plandome Station since it was cast aside for a ‘Vote YES’ sign. The get-out-the-vote effort for the school budget voting is huge and does not bode well for a ‘NO’ vote against this voluntary tax increase.

Many families move to Manhasset for the schools and are willing to pay for them since they plan to move as soon as the kids are out of school. That is all good but residents that are the core long term homeowners are left to pay their massive tax bills. It seems we are only renting our homes from the taxman!

I doubt that many voters understand that once they go beyond the 2 percent tax increase that a new floor on the taxes is established. If next year the BOE manages to just a two percent increase our average tax increase over the next two years will be four percent. I had a difficult time voting for that prospect.

The next issue ignored is that at some point our higher taxes work to depress home values and slow re-sales. This little ugly fact does not seem to register with the cheerleaders of ever-bigger budgets and benefits. Even more important is that the option used this year to smooth the pension payment [Read: lower the payments] does not make it go away and will work to increase the UAAL / unfunded pension liabilities unless the State Pensions really have whopping investment returns several years in a row. I would not bet my money on long-term superior investment returns from a State agency.

The teacher’s pension funds have severely under performed over the last 5-6 years and the obligations are massive and growing. The actual amount of UAAL / unfunded liabilities was near impossible to get out of the BOE but it is in the 100’s of millions of dollars! I have met few Manhasset residents that know this key aspect to the BOE budget’s creation. These unfunded liabilities are even bigger than stated in NY State documents since the rate of return assumptions is about eight percent per annum. If and this is a big if, the real return is just 6 percent per annum our unfunded obligations increases by 25 percent, yes 25 percent because two is one quarter of eight- not just a two percent up tick as so many think.

The issue is that next year [and every year thereafter] the pension and healthcare [another $123 million dollar totally unfunded liability] will take an even bigger chunk of the budget and people will have to notice that nearly 25 percent of all their hard earned tax money goes not to educating their kids but to obligations mandated by Albany and those that our BOE incurs for benefits. Have you ever spoken at length with a BOE candidate?

I will wait quietly until next year’s ever-urgent effort at ‘get-out-the-vote’. This vigorous effort will likely bring a chuckle. It also brings to mind a quote, “The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.”    ~Winston Churchill

James A. Brodie