Statement – Response to Vestal School District’s Claims

Statement from Reclaim New York Initiative Executive Director Brandon Muir:

“Voters in Vestal have now decided on their school district’s budget. Reclaim New York Initiative did not – and cannot – take a position on any budget referendum. Our outreach, conducted because taxpayers in Vestal came to us with concerns about the school district overtaxing residents, strictly encouraged the school board to reconsider the budget sent to voters.”

“It’s a shame district officials misled the public about their budgetary practices and Reclaim’s positions on them. Regardless of what Superintendent Jeffrey Ahearn says, the Vestal School District was cited by the New York State Comptroller for keeping extra funds, on average, 5.5% higher than the legal limit from 2014 to 2017.”

“Also contrary to the superintendent’s comments, Reclaim New York Initiative did not suggest the district cut its property taxes in half. While the district technically has enough in reserve to do so for just one year, Reclaim simply supported the efforts of taxpayers to hold the line on the current year’s tax increase. This recommendation is consistent with the State Comptroller’s report that stated the district could use excess funds ‘to pay down debt or to reduce taxes.’”

“The district’s claim that it needs its entire $6 million tax certiorari fund is not in sync with reality. Vestal’s current tax certiorari fund is 16 times larger than the district uses on average. That bloated fund is built off the backs of taxpayers.”

“Reclaim New York Initiative’s goal throughout this process has been to foster a dialogue between taxpayers and the school board based on accurate and relevant facts. So long as the Vestal School District continues to overtax residents, Reclaim will stand with taxpayers in demanding accountability.”

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