Letters (2/7-2/14)

mailHeidcamp should do something positive with his time

Full disclosure: I am a friend of the Mangione family. In light of this, it’s difficult to sit back and read the letter written by Mr. [George] Heidcamp published in the Jan. 31 edition.

First, Jenny Mangione is someone who energetically works to create a vibrant community in Saugerties. She cares deeply about the education of all of our children. One of many examples is her role in spearheading the annual race for Cahill Elementary. It raises more money than candy sales and reinforces a positive lifestyle for a generation that seems almost doomed to health problems. Another is her enthusiastic participation in almost every school activity. While at these events, she knows most – if not all – the students, and cheers for everyone. Overall, she is an active participant in the schools and loves our community.

Second disclosure: Kelly Myers is the director of my daughters’ religious education program. While I may not agree with every decision she has made as town supervisor, I have newfound respect for her. It took courage to write that letter.

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Since then, both women have been faced with backlash from Mr. Heidcamp and his supporters. I’ve read the letters these past few weeks.

Mr. Heidcamp, as president of the Board of Education, it would be encouraging to see you use your considerable energy and pugnacity to champion children and education. Why do you spend time belittling others instead? (In comparing Mangione to a chicken, do you understand the sexist undertone inherent in your analogy?)

With the changes in our world and in education – its funding, as well as state and federal mandates – it is imperative that you use your position to best help our children receive an education that will lead us all into the future.

Eileen Kamrass
Saugerties

 

Hens for Jen

Jennifer Mangione is far from alone in the barnyard. She has a growing flock of hens who support her fully.

We also have some very nice roosters who are joining us. And one thing we can say – which our opposition cannot – is that we are not impotent!

Jo Galante Cicale
Saugerties

 

Get involved in local education

Dear Saugerties Community: This an open invitation to two events in February centered on our children’s education. The first is an informal gathering to discuss concerns, collect ideas and create support for education in the schools and in the community.

This meeting will be held, Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Senior Center.

The other event is sponsored by the Saugerties PTA and PTSA and it’s an informational forum about the School Board elections.

If you have ever wondered: how to become a board member, who can be on the board, or what can you do to make a difference in our community, then join us. On hand will be an experienced panel to answer these questions and much more!

The forum will be held at the Public Library, Wednesday, February 20 from 7 to 8 p.m. Childcare will be provided.

Please join us for these two important events. When schools are strong and students succeed, everyone benefits.

Katie Cokinos
Saugerties

 

Police merger increased town taxes

Last week, Greg Helsmoortel refuted statements I made that while the village/town merger was positive in many aspects, it negatively impacted the 2013 Town Budget. He indicated he desired a “professional and civil” discussion of this issue. I’m happy to oblige him.

First, Mr. Helsmoortel wrote “the town did not lose the($208,000) contribution by village… The agreement was up, there was nothing to lose…there was no hole in the budget.” I find this explanation curious. I hope reasonable people can agree that if the town does not receive $208,000 in 2013 that it received the prior two years, it creates a budget problem.

So, if it will make him feel better, let’s say the money “vaporized” and this loss of revenue had to be made up by increasing property taxes. In addition, the police department’s budget increased by $188,000. The total impact to the 2013 town budget is $396,000. I arrived at this figure by adding the “vaporized” village subsidy to the amount of the budget increase. Based on figures supplied by the town, this increased the 2013 General Fund property tax levy by 7.6% and the total tax levy (used to determine the tax cap) by 3.4%.

Next, Mr. Helsmoortel disagreed with my statement that certain personnel expenses increased by over $1 million since the merger. “Impossible, not true,” he wrote. I urge taxpayers to look at the budget on the town website or visit the Saugerties GOP blog to see how personnel expenses skyrocketed in 2011 – the first year of the merger. Again, I hope reasonable people can agree that when you add several new full-time police officers, personnel costs will increase.

Mr. Helsmoortel also seemed to not understand my statement about “promised cost savings” and said I was trying to confuse people. I hope this refreshes his memory: Page 45 of the 2009 study by Fairweather Consulting used to sell the merger suggests that in “Year 3”, the combination of “cost-saving measures and new revenues” would reduce police expenses by 10 percent. Under this scenario, property taxes for non-village residents would not increase due to the merger. We are now is Year 3 and the suggested cost-savings/new revenues have yet to materialize.

Lastly, Mr. Helsmoortel wrote that police cost for the two departments decreased post-merger – this is true, but eight out of ten Saugerties residents do not pay village taxes. The rapidly escalating town police budget, however, is a cause for concern. He may try, buy Mr. Helsmoortel cannot logically deny that the merger increased property taxes for the Saugerties residents living outside the village.

Joe Roberti
Chair, Saugerties GOP

 

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