PORT CHESTER, N.Y. The Port Chester School District held a forum on the 2 percent property tax cap levy on Monday inside the middle school auditorium. According to Port Chester Superintendent of schools Edward Kliszus, the purpose of the forum was to educate the public on the new legislation.
"It's important to get the word out to the public," Kliszus said. "This meeting is about raising awareness and creating advocacy.
Kliszus and Maura J. McAward, assistant superintendent for business, are advocating to get the tax cap levy rescinded for Port Chester. In their presentation to the audience, the two outlined the various stipulations of the 2 percent property tax levy in an attempt to clarify some of the misinformation regarding the legislation.
"What some people don't realize is that the tax cap isn't necessarily 2 percent," McAward said.
In fact, the formula within the legislation computes Port Chester's tax cap out to 2.20 percent. Although they said this incremental increase certainly helps, Klizsus and McAward were adamant that it was enough.
Kliszuz and McAward stressed that all figures presented in the presentation are only preliminary, but shocking nonetheless. According to those figures, Port Chester's budget deficit for the 2012-13 budget would be approximately $3.37 million if the tax levy is enforced.
"We understand the current economic crisis is putting the governor in a difficult position," Kliszus said, referring to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "But our children have needs that are not being considered.
One way Port Chester can override the tax cap is through a vote. If the budget presented by the district is approved by a majority of 60 percent of voters, the new budget is installed. In the past five years the budget was submitted to a vote, the district failed to garner the majority approval.
Assembly member George Latimer (D District 91), who Kliszus described as one of the district's biggest supporters, was on hand to address the crowd.
"Port Chester has unique needs, and in many ways Port Chester schools need assistance more than other districts," Latimer said. "I look forward to working with the district so that all of Port Chester's voices can be heard.
When asked if he was optimistic about his chances of reaching approval, Kliszus responded, "I suppose. He added, "It's always better to be optimistic when it comes to these things.
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