Letter To The Editor, Huntington Resident Michele Kustera
During the past several weeks I have received several mailings related to the candidates in the 18 Legislative District of Suffolk of which I have been a resident for the past 8 years. If I hadn’t been following the race closely I would think that Candidate Spencer was running for a seat on the Board Of Education of SD3. Clearly, he has the answers that all BOE’s throughout the state have been struggling with lately. I wonder if Candidate Spencer has ever attended a BOE meeting? I’ve been attending BOE meetings for the past 3 years and one thing that is very clear is that Liz Black has continued to hold the line on keeping our school tax portion of our tax bills as low as possible. If you don’t believe me all you have to do is look at the minutes of SD3 BOE budget meetings from the past few years. I believe Liz will be extremely mindful at the county level of what is needed and how to save money where she can.
I realize not many residents attend local BOE meetings. However, it leads to why the recent Democratic Committee mailings can be very deceiving. In fact, it is the taxpayer that actually in the end raises the school portion of our property taxes which account for at least 80% of our tax bills. Those of us who vote can pass or fail the budget. The BOE approves a preliminary budget that goes up for a vote. During last year’s SD3 budget discussions Liz Black was one of a few BOE members who wanted to keep the tax increase as low as possible while other BOE members were pushing for well above the soon to be imposed 2% cap. Liz’s rationale was if we are going to be held to a 2% cap we should at least see what that means as far as cuts and try to keep it as close to the 2% as possible. Have property taxes in SD3 increased in the past 7 years? Yes, absolutely. Did Liz Black single handedly raise taxes? No. If candidate Spencer was versed in how school budgets are developed and what portions are mandated he would quickly realize that more than 80% of SD3 budget is made up of transportation, salaries, pensions, and healthcare. All of which are state mandated.
Regarding the closing of a school due to years of neglect by town and county officials, again, I am puzzled by the Democratic Committee’s allegations Liz Black single handedly closed the school. For me it began at a forum held by Steve Levy at Elwood High School in September of 2009. There, several county officials came together to discuss the then recent increase in violence in and around the Jack Abrams School. Subsequently, there were several forums at the town level as well where the issues of crime and violence were discussed. On numerous occasions Liz Black attended these forums as a concerned citizen and as a concerned BOE member for all children in the SD community. Liz Black spoke out against the violence pleading with officials to help. Liz also met with officials one on one to see what could be done. She met with Steve Israel on several occasions to try and secure funding for assistance in fighting crime. She met with Frank Petrone as well. These actions to me are stronger than any words that may have been said as depicted by the Democratic Committee’s recent mailers. Again, if you want to fact check my information you can find many of these items in SD3 BOE minutes as well as town meeting minutes where Liz Black has spoken many times regarding the violence.
I am putting my trust in Liz Black on election day to represent the 18 district of Suffolk County because she has proved that time and again she wants quality of life for all residents of Huntington. That means without crime and violence. She has also proven that while limited in holding taxes flat due to state mandates she’s helped to keep them lower than surrounding districts in Huntington township. All I ask is please vote on election day and ask questions of the candidates. Don’t believe everything you read in the mail.