Council votes to cut $1.7 million from defeated tax levy

Parents, school officials and residents crowd the chamber to argue against the cuts.

Hundreds of residents and school district employees filled the council chamber Wednesday night to protest $1.7 million in cuts to the district’s tax levy for the 2010-2011 school year, claiming the budget reduction will hurt education in Wayne. The amount is less than 1.4 percent of the district’s $126.6 million tax levy.

Voters rejected the original tax levy by approximately 100 votes in late April. According to state law, municipal governing bodies must review defeated tax levies and vote on how much should be cut.

It was standing room only in the chamber as the council voted 5-1 in favor of the cut, with Joseph Scuralli casting the lone dissenting vote. Lonni Miller Ryan abstained from voting, and Councilmen Al Sadowski and Lawrence Maron did not attend the meeting.

Ryan said she abstained because, “I didn’t feel as though I had enough information and it is too important of a decision to make without enough information.”

Several residents addressed the council and pleaded with them to vote against the cut.

“I feel like these cuts are very drastic and extreme,” Joyce Duncan said, noting that the cuts only make it more difficult for children. “We want our kids to have an education so they will be able to compete out there.”

Other residents said that the cuts will only make a negligible difference—approximately $40—in their tax bills. Several said they are willing to pay the extra money if it means their children will receive a better education. Some were afraid that more cuts would mean a reduction in paraprofessional staff members or teachers, particularly special education teachers.

“The teachers make the difference,” said Rex Miatke. “We’ve got a district we can’t lose.”

The rejected tax levy was $400,000 under a 2 percent mandated cut from last year’s levy. District officials had a somewhat tumultuous time creating a budget this year due to the 2% cap on property tax increases imposed by Governor Chris Christie and state lawmakers.

Diane Marturano, an advanced placement chemistry teacher at Wayne Valley High School, said she has already had to make changes in her program to save on “every supply imaginable.” She said advanced placement classes reduce students’ college tuition bills by allowing them to earn college credits with high test scores on AP exams. More cuts will not only hurt her class now, but they will hinder students’ ability to save money in the future, she said.

Recent budget cutbacks have already led to the elimination of several programs, including the Spanish language curriculum in the elementary schools.

“Our district is known for its excellence,” Kathleen Gibbons said. “Don’t remove that.”

“As you cut things out of your budget, they never come back,” said Interim Superintendent Michael Roth.

Roth declined further comment.

Sean Spiller, president of the Wayne Education Association, asked the council to “do something that is less impactful” for the district.

“At some point you start to see cracks in the armor and see it break down,” Spiller said.

Wayne Valley Principal Robert Reis said he was “shaking” for the first time in 40 years working in education because of what school districts have had to endure financially in recent years.

“These cuts are too deep,” Reis said.

School district and municipal representatives attempted to negotiate an amount to cut, but were unable to reach an agreement.

The Wayne Board of Education does not have to adhere to the specific line item cuts, but must adhere to the overall approved amount. The board can appeal the cuts to the state board of education.

eyes wide shut May 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM
To ALL that voted for YOUR Gov. Christie......How YOU liking him NOW...Seems he really cares about OUR kids and they way they will be educated....To all that have supported him, remember them come next election....
leanbean May 19, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Everyone forgets how the teachers union and the BOE pushed though the new contract that gave them there 4% raises before the cap went into effect. While the rest of the township workers get 0% for the next few years. if your going to point fingers? Point them in the right place.
eyes wide shut May 19, 2011 at 02:43 PM
And what % did the township workers get up till that point? Id rather be paying someone that has a masters degree or a phd the money as opposed to one that fills potholes or cuts the grass. Keep in mind our homes are worth what they are because of a good education system. The more our education systems fails the less our homes are worth and for many, their homes are without doubt the biggest investment people have made. If you don't care about a good education system and property values, then i suggest you move to some inner city. Perhaps you should take a look at cities like, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City and so on..Terrible schools and high taxes...The only problem i see is that people with kids in school did not get out and vote like they should have, if they did, we would not even be having this talk....And WE ALL know what party most of the members of council belong to and who they support....Remember this come election time...
Pad May 19, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Eyes Wide Shut, Leanbean is right. They pushed their 4% raises thru just before the CAPS took effect. Inner city schools have problems due to the demographics of the student pop., gangs, lack of parental involvement etc. You can spend billions there and it won't change a thing. So just because the budget failed doesn't mean the students will suffer. If the teachers and admin's are so concerned with the students welfare let them make concessions to the Township. It wouldn't take much to make up 1.7 million. Your remarks about grass cutters and pot hole fillers makes you a snob. Those people often risk their lives in the roadway and make far less in salaries and benefits then Wayne teachers and administrators. They also work all year round not 10 months a year and every holiday off, spring break, xmas break etc. My wife and I are both professionals and we would never make a remark like you did. You would be the first to complain if you drove your car into a pothole. Your are probably a teacher. Enrollment is down, people and buisnesses are leaving due to high taxes here. There has been alot of wasted money and scandal in the Wayne BOE. The taxpayers are fed up. As for property value, everybodies property value is down, houses are not selling and many don't move into Wayne due to high taxes here. I pay $17K a year and thats excessive to me. As far as politcal parties go I am neither but Im sure the Dem's would love your comments about pothole fillers and grass cutters.
eyes wide shut May 19, 2011 at 07:01 PM
@ Pad: First do some research, Wayne has the 2nd lowest tax rate in Passaic County only behind Totowa. The reason the property taxes are higher is due to the VALUE of the homes. Why do YOU think the Value is higher? Don't YOU think education plays a critical part? People that want to move to Wayne do plenty of research unlike yourself. Home buyers find out that year after year Wayne ranks in the top 50 school districts in the state. Ever wonder why? Now that you have stated that YOU are a professional WE can see why YOU are against Unions. You state that teachers ONLY work 10 months out of the year and that is true, but don't township workers get the same holidays off? Nothing wrong with that. As far as being a snob, sorry to burst your professional bubble. YOU are the one claiming to be the "professional" here. Are you against union workers in town that are Police as well? And you speak of parental involvement, isn't it the parents here in Wayne that want the BEST for their kids??? Isn't this what it is ALL about? The parents wanting for their KIDS... I pay more then the 17k you pay and im not complaining like YOU are. I know im getting my money's worth for me and my family here in WAYNE...Tell me why, it is the "professionals" on Wall St, that killed Main St and yet Wall St got the check??? Im betting YOU are in favor of the Bush Tax Credits too...The Govt. Bailed out GM and got paid back with interest and Chrysler is about to do the same. Not bad for Union companies....
Pad May 19, 2011 at 09:00 PM
We are both professionals and union members. I guess the vote of the people means nothing to you. Very democratic of you. The Mayor & Council did the right thing. Im well aware of the Corps paying their loans back but the union members made huge concessions. IYou stated you want your money to go to the high paid teachers and administrators rather than the grass cutter and pothole filler. That say's it all. Im not a Democrat or Republican. I vote for who I feel is the best candidate for the position. There is to much waste and scandel at Waynes BOE. The last Super leaving in less than a year with $600K is a disgrace. That money wasted. THe vote lost by about 100 votes. Even if it was 1 vote or a thousand the taxpayers have spoken. The Mayor & Council did the right thing. They upheld the Democratic process and the will of the voters.
Cooked Mussels May 20, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Home prices in Wayne are falling because of HIGH TAXES. These days a home buyer must consider how the taxes on a property will increase their monthly payments: $12,000 a year in taxes is an extra $1000 added to the monthly mortgage payment!!!! Home prices will continue to fall as tax rates increase. All municipal employees - particularly the teachers - should get 0% raises while the economy is in the tank. Again...if our real estate taxes continue to increase due increased costs of running the Township of Wayne the value of our homes will continue to spiral downward.
Debbie May 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Pad, Nicely said!!!
Debbie May 20, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Cooked Mussels, You hit the nail on the head. I’m, a single parent and the $1000.00 a month for property taxes on top of my mortgage is an unbelievable burden for me. I believe the majority of residents feel this way but are uncomfortable to voice it.
Pad May 20, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Debbie, Im glad you posted. Many in Wayne have the attitude that if you can't afford it sell your house and move. People are being forced out because of taxes. You live in Wayne and have a child in the District. You have every right to be able to live in Wayne. The burden that the taxes put on people in Wayne is unreal. The BOE could even care less. The budget should have been cut much more. The budget is 142 million and the cuts don't even make a dent. Believe me the asking budget was already inflated just in case the budget failed. If it passed, all the more they have to waste. I hope you and your family will be able to stay in Wayne. Except for the taxes here its a great place to live and raise a family. Good Luck and keep on posting here and on the Wayne Forum to let these snobs know how much some people are struggling to remain in Wayne.
Pad May 20, 2011 at 09:51 PM
BTW Eyes Wide Shut, Public workers have nowhere near the days off and benefits the BOE employee's get. It is a well known fact that the teachers union president use to walk around the statehouse as if they owned the place. They politically threatened anyone who didn't support their demands. Unions negotiate not threaten politicians if they don't support their cause. Look at the Presidents salary and benefits well over 250K a year. Unions in the private sector negotiate, not threaten to vote out the companies leadership. Many union members gave up alot so their companies can survive. What has the teachers union given up so that this state and its taxpayers can survive? Nothing. That's the ans. They make a good living and have great lifetime health benefits for their families. Union and non union members pay much more for their health benefits and when you retire they usually end and yougo on Medicare. I know alot of teachers and even in private they are alway's whineing on how bad they have it in their lifetime tenured jobs. A year or two on the outside work world and they would be running back even with the upcoming changes if they happen. I have been a Union member over 40 years and the tactics the NJEA has used now & in the past disgust me. Yes, years ago there was need for more because teachers and others were poorly paid and they fought for what they deserved, but now they have been controlled by the greed of their Union and now the taxpayers are fighting back.
Al Scala May 21, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I'm curious as to why the BOE members who were present at the Council meeting did not get up and appeal the amount of monies being cut. There were 5 BOE members present, and not one said a word. GUTLESS!. Only Michael Roth our Interim Super got up and spoke eloquently. Where were our 2 new members sitting up in front who campaigned about being the peoples voice? I guess they had laryngitis!
Pad May 21, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Yes, and the peoples voice was the vote. And the budget lost. What don't you get?
Al Scala May 22, 2011 at 02:40 AM
I get it, and very well! Trustees are called that for a reason. They are in a position of TRUST! It's their obligation to manage the assets of the taxpayer relative to the educational system of this town. By sitting there and playing dead or comatose is GUTLESS! Yes GUTLESS. I guess Bob Ceberio told them to keep their mouths shut! If you don't give a crap about education in this town, that's your perogative. It's not mine!
Pad May 22, 2011 at 12:37 PM
I care about education. Its the money they have squandered over the years. $600K to Sico for 91/2 months, over 1 million for artificial turf during the fiscal crisis, 4% raises pushed thru right before the CAPS went into effect, the Wayne Hills house deal, etc etc. Also the closed door meetings, the lying to the taxpayers, recent scandels and their refusal to admit their part in this Superintendant mess. Do we need to spend $12,000.00 on a search for a new Superintendant? There is a qualified person in the District. He probably won't play ball so he's a not being considered. Sico was let go and paid off, why do they keep saying he retired? Its all smoke & mirrors at the BOE.
Al Scala May 22, 2011 at 01:11 PM
I agree with everything you say above. I too am appalled at these things. It's called mismanagement. It's a failure on the part of the BOE Trustees. With the budget going down, I'm not against cutting money out of the budget, I just wasn't happy with the amount. Was 1.75 million an arbitrary number? Where were the cuts made? My concern as a parent and homeowner is that the system does not get impaired by this. Are we cutting our noses to spite our face! I hope not! I agree that there has been a lot of wasteful spending. Did you know that our BOE Business Admininistrator is working from home 2 days a week? I think she's paid around 120-130,000/yr. Get her ass into the Board office to work every day, where she could interact with the people she needs to interact with! I hope Pavlick isn't the disasater Ceberio was as Board President! And Ceberio is running for Freeholder? God help us!
Pad June 15, 2011 at 08:44 PM
The BOE Buisness administrator has NO BUISNESS working from home two days a week. Either she is double dipping somewhere else or some behind closed doors deal was made with her. As taxpayers we should get to the bottom of this. Another example of Wayne BOE mismanagement and disregard of taxpayers money. That's about $2500.00 a week. She should be in her office 5 days a week for 8 full hours. Another scam perpetuated on the taxpayers of Wayne
Al Scala June 15, 2011 at 08:52 PM
I disagree. At that pay level, she should be working 10-12 hour days, five days a week, and even on some Saturdays!
EddieRyan January 31, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Parents making sure their children do well in school makes the difference not taxes or teachers. I attended a poverty stricken public high school and a 1% public high school during my high school years. The teachers did not have to work at the 1% school because all the kids turned in their homework. The football team's average SAT score was 1330 when the max was 1600. It had nothing to do with money spent or teachers. It was the parents...I lived it.


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