Vestal: Tell Your School Board to Stop Hoarding Taxpayer Money

At a public hearing on May 8 at 6 p.m., taxpayers in the Vestal Central School District (Broome County) have the opportunity to demand a 0-percent tax increase in the 2018–2019 budget. They can do this without jeopardizing school quality because Vestal has been hoarding millions of dollars in taxpayer money for years—enough to cut property taxes in half.

Vestal’s hoarding is so alarming that the New York State Comptroller has twice audited this school district of 3,200 students in four years.

It’s good to keep a little extra saved in case a future recession triggers a double-digit rise in pension costs. But Vestal can cover its full pension costs for one and a half years using a rainy day fund dedicated to only that purpose.

I’m sorry, but it just won’t ever rain that hard.

Another savings account—for “tax certioraris,” or refunds for taxpayers who have been overcharged—sits at $6.5 million.

In Vestal, the overcharged taxpayer is the average family.

Their total tax burden and basic expense puts them in the red before they even wake up. Shouldn’t most of that $6.5 million—plus some of the pension savings—be returned to these families so they can invest in their quality of life instead of paying the mortgage with credit cards?

While a reserve dedicated for tax certioraris is normal, Vestal’s account is 28 percent higher than all other Broome County school districts combined. And,­­ it has been scarcely used over the last five years—it’s 16 times larger than the district uses on average.

According to the Comptroller, this is supposed to be a use-it-or-lose-it account each year. Instead, the Vestal School Board has doubled the fund over five years.

The nearly $12 million in just these two accounts will never see the inside of a classroom. It will probably just sit in a school district bank account forever. Or, it can be returned to the taxpayer, in the form of 0-percent tax increases, for the next several years.

Instead of doing the right thing for taxpayers, the Vestal School Board is handing out a 1.4 percent property tax increase.

Join the fight against Vestal by signing the petition demanding that the school district stop hoarding our taxes!

And you can make your voice heard at the Vestal Central School Board meeting this Tuesday, May 8, at 6 PM.

Clayton Avenue Elementary School Auditorium
209 Clayton Avenue, Vestal, NY