When the Nyack-Valley Cottage group Restore Educational Funding (REF) met last, the focus was on and .
When the coalition of concerned parents meets this Thursday evening, talk will center on a possible solutions.
"The state is underfunding schools," said Heather Cornell, a Valley Cottage mother with children in Nyack Schools who helped kickstart REF. Cornell noted the recent decrease in state aid does not jive with soaring property taxes thoughout the region. "It's untenable," she added. "The whole system doesn't work."
Cornell and other members of REF—like Jen Marraccino, a Nyacker with children in the district—say governor Cuomo's recently-imposed two-percent property tax cap is not enough.
"Even though it's a cap, it's still an annual increase," Cornell said. "It doesn't do much for people in danger of losing their homes."
(Nyack Schools 2012-13 budget is set to be under the tax cap—read more about it .)
One possible solution is circuit breaker tax relief, a structure Cornell calls a "paradigm shift"—and an idea that has clout both in local village hall meetings and in Albany.
The circuit breaker concept is a progressive property tax based on homeowners' income, but with a built-in ceiling—taxes cannot exceed more than ten percent of residents' income.
"We'll be discussing what the tax is, how it would impact the community and homeowners, and different ways to initiate and fund it," Cornell said.
Present Thursday evening will be John Whiteley, an activist who has been lobbying for property tax reform and relief in New York State for decades. Whiteley has been the legislative affairs officer for the New York State Property Tax Reform Coalition since 2007.
At , guests included Nyack Schools superintendent James Montesano, State Sen. David Carlucci and others.
Nyack Schools , which will bolster the budget without further budening taxpayers. But Cornell says the influx is not enough.
"That's the state restoring some of the cuts, and not all of them," she said. "The pot is still very small."
Montesano said the new money will likely be used to help at-risk students improve their academic performance.
Though Cornell noted "demystifying" Nyack Schools' budget is part of REF's mission, Thursday's meeting will not spotlight the slashes of the proposed fiscal plan, and instead stay honed in on the circuit breaker tax structure.
- What: REF Q&A on affordable property taxes and increased educational funding
- When: Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
- Where: Valley Cottage Library Meeting Room