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Monday, May 27, 2013

School taxes, school budget emails to the School Board and other boards...

Dear Readers,

We have seen this past week that Scarsdale residents are smart, educated and know very well when and where to draw the line. You said " Enough " loud and clear to frivolous and unnecessary spending. They went over the line, you are drawing them back. After 43 years of uncontested budgets, you showed you are very capable of distinguishing between right and wrong.

Soon, we will have a more reasonable budget. We all have to work with what is within our budget. Spending cannot be limitless.

I hope you see the parallels here and what is going on in our Village elsewhere. This same, unaccountability is everywhere. The Planning Board, the CHP,  the BAR, the BOA they are all in this same mind set. Use and abuse our natural resources. Dvirka and Bertolucci have made enough money from us to last them forever. The boards keep approving building on wetlands, they keep designing basins. What could be better ?  For them, not us. They have ruined Scarsdale, soon to be Basin-dale...

How come I never heard of any hearings on these basins ? How come they just went ahead and built them ? How much is each basin costing the resident ? How ugly can those be ?....

Finally now, we just had a hearing on Sheldrake. Unfortunately I was out of town and could not attend.

As I write this, I am hearing the band pass on Popham for the Memorial Day march. This country, this town deserves better. We have to stop this reckless abuse of our town before it is too late !

I thought you might be interested in reading this email correspondence between myself and School Board president Ms. Guggenheimer that started in January. She answered my first e-mail, but not the second... I wonder why.

Happy Memorial Day !


From: "Lika L. Levi" <likallevi@aol.com>
Subject: School Budget 2013-2014
Date: April 24, 2013 3:19:01 PM EDT
To: Board of Education <boardofed@scarsdaleschools.k12.ny.us>
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Ms. Guggenheimer,

You may recall the e-mail exchange below that took place almost more than three months ago now. Yet, it pains me to see no action being taken. On the contrary...

I read a Wellness Center is being promoted for next year, as though everything else is perfect and all we need is a massage or other service that will be provided at the Center. I do not need to tell you, you have school counselors and many psychologists on your payroll, who would diagnose this behavior as  "delusional" and therefor not normal. When there is so much debt on the budget, when you are raising taxes beyond the cap, when infrastructure is crumbling you are approving $325,000 on a Wellness Center as though all is perfect and that is all we lack... It is a shame that this ever made it to the agenda and emblematic of all our woes...

Fear not, the Village Board is suffering from the same disorder.  They approved last night a budget that projects debt, they do not even know the exact amount for next year, while contemplating selling village land at 2-4 Weaver St., for next to nothing to clutter us even more at Heathcote Five Corners... Thank God that is still a non-binding document that hopefully ( if they see the light... ) will be repealed. This while raising taxes, again beyond the cap, while we ride on bumpy roads like no other and while there is no provision to set aside empty space for parks... Sometimes, I do ask myself if I am in Scarsdale or in a third world country, again ?...

As the School Board, however, more than the VB your spending is sending an explicit and implicit message by approving this frivolous budget to the community and to our students. This irresponsive spending is akin to teen-age binge drinking we are all so against. However, such irresponsible spending is just like going on one, even  contemplating this kind of spending in light of the economy, the federal budget, the state of our schools is not acceptable and deplorable.

The Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the so called Committee for Historic Preservation, they are all, also on this same page: Delusional spending disorder. (DSD)

They are approving like there is no end to this use and abuse mentality. Here our architectural and environmental resources are being auctioned at every so called planning meeting. They meet to destroy our environment. It is a shame volunteer hours are not being spent to our benefit but to our detriment. Maybe they will take a good objective look at what they are truly doing and ask themselves the right question: "Why ? "...

I know we have been blessed in the US with a country with seemingly endless resources. I did not grow up here. I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey where we saved and used and reused everything long before it was fashionable to do so...We did it, because we had to. There was no choice, we learned to exist with the little we had and we cherished the innovative ways we discovered along the way... We were happy with our little discoveries. 

Here the story was different: When I arrived from Turkey in 1977 I was appalled by the wasteful behavior in the States. It has changed somewhat now, in light of the Climate Change, Recycling movement, etc. 

Now, it is time our boards from land use to school to village board, also exercised some restraint and sent the right message to the younger generation as well as the population in general. It is time to exercise restraint and control and engage in responsible behavior. Reckless spending and binge drinking is over. It is time to sober up both financially and ecologically. There is nothing wrong with saying "No"...Sometimes that is all we need to hear. Now, that is the only right message.

Please distribute this among your School Board. 

With best wishes,

Lika L. Levi

On Jan 18, 2013, at 2:13 PM, Board of Education <boardofed@scarsdaleschools.k12.ny.us> wrote:

Dear Mrs. Levi:
Thank you so much for taking the time to write and providing input as we begin the DIstrict's budget planning process for the 2013-2014 year. The Board of Educations seeks to be responsive to community values but respectful of economic circumstances.
Community comments are an important part of the process.
Elizabeth Guggenheimer
President, Board of Education
Scarsdale UFSD

Lika L. Levi" <likallevi@aol.com> 1/17/2013 4:15 PM >>>
Dear Board of Education Members,

As you deliberate the current budget, I hope you will consider this:
We pay very high school taxes, but are very proud of the education our students receive. I will stay away from the latest episode involving a high-school Dean. Unfortunately such unpleasant situations seem to occur periodically involving students and/ or faculty – which again given all the care bestowed upon our students and faculty, should not occur.
The latest school budget of 141 Mil. For 4,700 students in the district, that is about $ 26,000 per student that residents are paying regardless of students they may or may not have in the system.
I do not think given such high numbers this makes sense any more. For the empty nester, or for the family with an only child, or for the family who chooses to send their kid(s) to an altogether different school(s) this is no longer justified. I agree we should all participate in the cost of local education, but not when the numbers are this high and the result is still, unfortunately, the occasional embarrassing scandal.
This is only encouraging the family with the 4 or 6 kids to move to Scarsdale for a relatively free education. We are getting a disproportionate number of kids to adults in our population. 
More than a third ( http://scarsdale.areaconnect.com/statistics.htm ) of our population or about 34% of our population is under 19, according to the data supplied on the web page, whereas the national average is 23.7 ( Quickfacts census.gov ) and the New York State average is 22.3%. ( Again Quickfacts.census.gov
I think much like water consumption, there should be a base tax levied for local education and beyond that tax should be dependent on the number of students enrolled in the school system. For example, we currently pay about $ 15,000 in school taxes when we no longer have a student in the system. This should be reduced by 2/3 rds at least...
In the last six months I had two of our neighbors move whereas for the past twenty years prior to that, practically no one had moved from Lockwood Road unless they were going  “ feet first “ as my old neighbor used to say. The current economic situation, especially for the empty nester, is making Scarsdale prohibitive to our disadvantage.
With such a high number of kids, government participation by residents is also being hindered. Most adults here are parents engaged in raising kids, and therefore cannot participate in our politics since it is very heavily dependent on resident participation. What keeps happening is that only the few empty-nester(s) who has the time and/or the energy to participate in government affairs is participating and the rest's silent participation is being interpreted as acceptance which is hardly the case.
I hope you will consider this as an option to alleviate the tax burden on the average resident. I am assuming the tax evaluation currently underway, will make our taxes more manageable.
I think by making taxes more dependent on usage, you will discourage the 4 kid family from moving in and encourage empty nesters to continue living in Scarsdale. We hope this will also give families some time to consider participating in local government instead of just attending PTA meetings. I hope the former will be to the advantage of all concerned.

Respectfully submitted,



     Lika L. Levi
 21 Lockwood Road
 Scarsdale, NY 10583-5301

 Phone: (914) 722-0004
 Fax: (914) 722-0005

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Consider our limited, endangered resources.
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