Letters to the Editor
EDITOR'S NOTE: The River Reporter welcomes letters
on all subjects from its readers. They must be signed and include
the correspondent's phone number. The correspondent's name and
town will appear at the bottom of each letter; titles
and affiliations will not, unless the correspondent is writing
on behalf of a group.
Letters are printed at the discretion of the editor.
It is requested they be limited to 300 words; correspondents may
be asked to cut longer letters. Deadline is 1:00 p.m. on Monday.
can be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
To the editor:
With regard to your article on veggie drivers in the April 30 issue: just want to be sure Ive got this straight. The Environmental Protection Agency considers the use of vegetable oil fuel as a violation of the Clean Air Act. The Department of Environmental Protection, however, sees the use of fracking fluids, contents unnamed and unregulated, as much ado about nothing. I do believe the inmates are running the asylum!
Highland Lake, NY
Clearing up some misconceptions
To the editor:
Judging from Norman Meyers April 23 letter, I think there are several misunderstandings about Tustens May 19 referendum on the position of highway superintendent. Voters will not be casting their ballots to eliminate the position, which is an integral part of the New York State Highway Law as it pertains to the operations of our town roads. The referendum would merely change the highway superintendents position from elected to appointed and form a Department of Public Works (DPW) by combining the workforces of the highway, water and sewer departments.
In addition, the idea was not the brainchild of the Association of Towns. It was proposed in the Report of the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness. The commission was established in an attempt to reduce taxpayer burden by examining ways to strengthen and streamline local government, reduce costs and improve effectiveness, maximize informed participation in local elections and facilitate shared services. It incorporates input from all levels of local government across the state, Pattern of Progress president Jonathan Drapkin and many others. Visit nyslocalgov.org for a full listing of participants and the entire report.
Finally, the changes being presented for a vote on May 19 are not being touted as a way of promoting more effective government. Local government consists of town board members put in office by the majority to formulate and maintain policies. Neither a highway superintendent nor DPW can formulate policy, and are therefore not government or subject to a power grab. What it will do is consolidate management, manpower and equipment to more efficiently maintain and improve Tustens infrastructure to save taxpayer dollars.
As a Tusten taxpayer and current superintendent who continues to work on improving and safeguarding our water and sewer infrastructure, both highway superintendent George Kinch and I have been selected by the elected town board to continue as part of the management team for the DPWshould the voters agree. For more information, reach out to your board members, stop by the town hall or visit tusten-narrowsburg.org.
Scott Birney, Water and Sewer Superintendent
Town of Tusten, NY
The pros of a new DPW
To the editor:
In order to allay some of the fear that has been created recently about an appointed highway superintendent in the Town of Tusten, NY, I offer the following.
Appointing a superintendent and creating a Department of Public Works (DPW) will have a positive impact in many ways. It will save money. It will raise performance standards, establish hours of work, safeguard our infrastructure and ensure sharing and cooperation between departments.
The current water and sewer superintendent has been appointed for 15 years on an annual basis. The town board does not have the authority to arbitrarily fire an appointee of the town. Both the commissioner and deputy commissioners positions would be protected by civil service, just as the water and sewer superintendent and deputy are today.
An elected highway superintendent does not have to meet any criteria other than being the most popular candidate. There are no job qualifications; they are not required to work any set amount of hours.
I know the majority of you think our current highway superintendent does a great job. Wed like to ensure that quality into the future. If he doesnt run for election again and two unqualified candidates run for office that offer no knowledge of roads, machine operation, budgets or how to work with a crew, we would be wasting $1.01 million of your hard-earned money. I dont want to see any of our taxes wasted. Lets ensure high standards and minimum hours of work; you deserve qualified, knowledgeable and professional individuals spending your tax dollars.
I hope that people will vote yes for this change. This is not a power grab as some suggest; it is simply common sense. In our beleaguered economy, we need to spend every tax dollar as wisely as possible.
Carol Ropke Wingert, Councilman
Town of Tusten
DPW would not save money
To the editor:
On May 19, residents of Tusten will be asked to decide if they wish to merge the highway department and the water and sewer department into a department of public works (DPW), eliminating the elected position of highway superintendent, and replacing it with a politically appointed commissioner of the new DPW.
Reasons cited are that this will save the town money, and will increase efficiency. They can and do share resources now.
New York State wants consolidation. Our experience with this, e.g. the school merger, has been negative. Following the logic of consolidation, the next step would be to eliminate town boards in favor of regional appointed boards in order to save money, thus eliminating home rule.
There are independent studies that debunk the states argument that the large number of small municipal governments contribute to higher taxes. These studies argue that theyre the only reason taxes are not higher.
This issue affects people who live in the water/sewer district, yet they do not seem to have a voice. Why give yourself less, not more, say in your local government? For the sake of democracy, vote no to the DPW.
In favor of a DPW
To the editor:
I want to voice my support for the May 19 vote for a new Town of Tusten Department of Public Works (DPW). With this positive vote, the position of highway superintendent will then be changed from an elected to an appointed one. The Tusten Town Board, which is elected by the people, will continue to set good policy for the operation of a new DPW. We elected them to govern, set policy and to hire experienced, qualified people to run our towns public departments. We will not be losing our vote for highway superintendent, we will be ensuring that our trusted town board members will place people in these important positions due to their abilities and not by a popularity vote, as it sometimes turns out.
If combining the highway, water and sewer departments into one DPW will save the township $60,000 (as per our Tusten supervisor), then lets save the money. Our township should be run as an efficient business while saving money where it can.
George Kinch and Scott Birney, our present department heads, have done a great job with our roads and water and sewer facilities and will continue their dedication as DPW commissioners. They are an experienced, qualified team. They have the knowledge and work ethic to get the job done.
To the editor:
On May 19, voters of the Sullivan West School District (SW) will have the opportunity to vote for the school budget and for three school board members.
The budget has been carefully crafted to take advantage of all cost-saving measures possible while still maintaining and improving our childrens educational program. Last year, we put together a budget that had no increase in spending. Additionally, this years budget has a 1.17 percent decrease in spending. Please support this budget.
One board seat is being sought by two members of our community. I hope you will support John Reggero in his bid to become our next school board member. I have known Reggero since our daughters started Kindergarten together 12 years ago. Since that time, he has remained involved not only in his daughters education but for all students of the district. Reggero has attended board meetings on a regular basis over the last 12 years and has often spoken up with a voice of reason and concern on a multitude of issues. He has volunteered his time with girls softball teams, served on various volunteer committees required by the NYS Education Department in SW and has been a successful businessman in the town of Jeffersonville.
John Reggero will be a welcome addition to the SW board with intelligence and thoughtfulness. Please support him with your vote on May 19.
The zero percent illusion
To the editor:
Bob Goldsack and Taxpayers United (TU) want to take sole credit for this years zero percent tax increase. What are the facts?
We have seriously depleted our budgetary reserves. Cost per student is now at over $12,000 per year for each student, up two percent in the last year.
Lucky for Bob, revenue from the state went up a whopping 14 percent last year. What did Bob have to do with this? Thats where the real zero percent comes in.
If state contributions had been flat, we would have had a five percent decrease in total revenue, which would have translated to a need to increase local revenues, your property taxes, by eight percent. Property taxes were flat, but local revenues dropped by nine percent. Anyone want to bet that they will be bigger this year? There is potential for federal stimulus money, but the state, which currently has a $3 billion shortfall, may drop their contribution accordingly. Can we count on another $3 million last-minute gift again this year?
As school board director, I will work to keep taxes low through indexing based on the cost per student. I will advocate for a deliberative line-by-line budget process and a five-year budgeting plan so we are prepared for challenges we will face in the future. I will advocate getting budget proposals well ahead of meetings so that directors can ask good questions of the administration and determine where money can be saved. I will get the details of the budget and this history of expenditures and revenue on the district web site for all to examine.
Bob, I wish you luck, I just wish we were not counting on luck. I propose we do the hard work necessary to maintain fiscal discipline.
Candidates who care
To the editor:
On May 19, our community has the chance to restore integrity to the Delaware Valley School Board with five caring and passionate candidates: Jack Fisher, Bill Greenlaw, Pam Lutfy, Chuck Pike and Sue Schor.
All of the candidates in this election favor fiscal responsibility. The difference is that Fisher, Greenlaw, Lutfy, Pike, Schor are much more in touch with the needs of taxpayers, students, teachers and parents. Theyve volunteered for decades in our schools and community, with our PTAs, with special-needs children and more. They all have children attending or graduated from DV. Theyve been endorsed by the Future of Pike County and the DV Education Support Professionals.
TUs Goldsack, Marasa and Wright refused to attend two Meet the Candidates events, one hosted by volunteers in our PTAs. They refused to answer questionnaires created by students and by employees who keep our schools running. Instead, they launched personal attacks on their opponents and, sadly, on graduates from the school district. Their attacks have hurt me, as someone who attended DV for 13 years. But more importantly, they have encouraged me.
Theyve encouraged me to major in education policy at the Maxwell School of Public Affairs and to intern at a New York City public school as a Participation in Government teacher this spring. The experience of teaching in a high school where per-pupil costs exceed DVs by thousands, yet whose graduation rate is 50 percent, reinforced my determination to support educational leaders with integrity and vision.
TU has tried silencing me because I do not personally pay school taxes. They dont mention that my family proudly pays our taxes to the school district that raised my brother and me. Through the tough financial times our family is experiencing, we realize the importance of good leadership for the future of Delaware Valley.
Please, lets restore virtue and vision to our school board by voting Fisher, Greenlaw, Lutfy, Pike, Schor.
A ticket for the Delaware Valley school board election
To the editor:
As an alumnus of the Delaware Valley School District, I support Jack Fisher, Bill Greenlaw, Pam Lutfy, Chuck Pike and Sue Schor in the upcoming school board election.
I am currently studying history at Boston College (BC). BC stresses not only academic excellence, but a well-rounded student with involvement in the schools clubs and community. I am a member of the rugby team and serve on the executive board, am a Big Brother, and I work in the history department. I will be spending this summer at the Boston National Historical Park. I attribute my success to the experience I had at Delaware Valley High School (DV).
At DV, I enjoyed challenging classes and countless opportunities to be involved. While I played soccer, it was Odyssey of the Mind and Model United Nations that taught me the skills I use every day. The former fosters creativity and teamwork, and with the schools support, I was able to travel to Worlds Competition. Model UN offers unique chances to practice critical reading, public speaking and intensive writing. These clubs helped me become involved in an American Legion-sponsored event called Boys State and then Boys Nation. This résumé of involvement, not my SAT scores, is what gave me an advantage when I applied to colleges.
Without the support and funding from the school board, I would have had a completely different high school and conceivably college experience. The current students of the Delaware Valley School District deserve these same opportunities. Without the right people on the board, clubs like Odyssey of the Mind and Model United Nations will suffer due to the lack of funds.
On May 19, vote Fisher, Greenlaw, Lutfy, Pike and Schor.