Letter: School district encourages low turnout

(Image courtesy League of Women Voters of California)

Once again, Saugerties Central Schools are doing everything in their power to minimize voter turnout.

Despite annual discussions of how to improve voter turnout, and suggestions by the public, Saugerties appears to be putting roadblocks for taxpayers and voters.

The budget announcement which is mailed to the taxpayers that have to foot the bill for every one of these annual tax increases is delivered 3 days AFTER the budget forum and 2 days after the budget Public Hearing. Both of these also occur AFTER the last deadline entry for the local paper prior to the vote.

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If that is not enough, instead of providing an official first class letter of notification to the people paying for all this, they attach the budget notification to a school non-profit promotional flier with dogs going through hoops on the cover. The flier looks just like most of the other non-profit solicitations that most people toss without reading. All just days before the actual vote.

If you happen to have an emergency, or an unexpected stay in the hospital or out of town, it gets even worse.

The procedure to obtain and submit an absentee vote can take days. It takes 3 separate interactions with the administration office. While some of this can be done by mail for those that know way ahead of time that they will be out of town, it can be a nightmare for those involved in an unexpected or emergency situation. In order to get the administration to hand you an absentee ballot, you first have to get and process an application. The application just gets you the form, and requires the signature of the person desiring the absentee ballot. Then you have to go back to the administration to actually get the ballot. Last, you have to get the ballot to the administration.

This may not be too bad if you are doing this for yourself in person, but the whole idea of an absentee ballot is that it is for someone that cannot even make it to the voting place. So as a person trying to help someone out that will not be able to make it, it can go like this.

Say you have a friend that is in the hospital in Saugerties – oh yeah, we don’t have one of those – so lets say Albany or New York or even Kingston or Poughkeepsie. When you find out that you will not be able to make the vote because you ended up there in an emergency, or had to stay longer in the hospital than you thought, you have to get a friend or relative to go to the Administration office – during business hours of course – to get a copy of the application. You then take that to Albany or wherever to get it signed. Then you take the application to the Administration office – during business hours of course – weekends do not pertain to the school district – where they will give you an absentee voter card. You take the voter card back to Albany to have the absentee voter fill it out and sign it – then you deliver it back to the administration office.

Although the State and the Banks, and nearly every other business will provide you the means for online capabilities for just these types of emergencies, the school district will not.

Electronic creation and submission of an absentee ballot should take no more than 15 minutes with a minimum of online access. Instead, it can take days and hundreds of dollars in travel time and cost to submit an absentee ballot.

It is no wonder that the costs of running the school is way out of line.

This years budget proposal is $1.3 Million dollars more than the last budget, and $5.1 Million Dollars more than the 2007-2008 actual expenditures. This is all with a declining number of students. The majority of these public dollars are going to inflated salaries, inflated pensions, and inflated benefits.

People are losing their homes. Those that try to get away from these onerous burdens cannot even sell, due to the tax situation.

Am I going to vote – you bet I am.

If you have a friend or loved one that cannot make it to the polls, please help them out – but you better get started now…

Mark Hoffstatter

Saugerties 

There is one comment

  1. J. GOLDBAUM

    We are building in Saugerties and love the area but are really aghast and disheartened by the tax situation. I agree with the writers and some previous interviews and editorials exposing the overload of school taxes which apparently are not being used efficiently or effectively.

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