The BOE voted late Thursday night on a final budget that included a $500,000 dollar increase in the tax levy, down from a proposed $3.3 million dollar increase. But board members say the reduction came out of the hard work of one man. “Chesky Seitler, named as Budget Committee chairman only three weeks ago, worked tirelessly to understand the budget and to determine exactly why such a large increase was needed”, a board member said.
Seitler determined that the budget called for $2.8 million dollars in raises for the Union teachers, that would pay for the past two years of raises. What Seitler proposed, was that the Union contract be negotiated starting now, and the years past be considered a zero raise.
“The idea of forcing the taxpayers to pay all 3 years worth of raises in one year was too much to bear”, Seitler says.
The Union raise was included, but only for this year not the past two years.
“The result was a budget that kept all educational areas intact and only reduced the pay raise to the unions”, Seitler tells TLS. “Over the last three years, we have not laid off teachers.” “While the private sector has been going through the worst recession in decades, the Lakewood teachers did not experience any layoffs. Yet they were still demanding retroactive raises”, Seitler says. “The taxpayers who have to pay these raises are all too happy if they have a job, and it is unfair to ask them to pay for such a huge raise in one shot.”
Seitler added, “The union has not accepted the Board’s position, however the budget now does not have the funds needed for their demands.” “Their choice is either to accept the new terms, or continue without a contract.”
Board members and LAC members say they were pleasantly surprised with the results.
“While many were skeptical that Seitler would be able to reduce the budget on such a magnitude in only three weeks, he has proven once again that with determination and work, it can be done”, a member of the LAC said to TLS. “This seems to be a repeat of 2010, when Seitler promised a zero dollar increase in the face of a proposed $8 million dollar increase.” “With only three weeks to work with, he produced a zero increase budget in time.”
But Seitler doesn’t take all the credit for the job.
“I could not have done without the support of my fellow Board members, especially Yoni Silver and others, as well as the support I got over the last few weeks from people in the community who were upset at the proposed increase”, Seitler said. “Without the community voicing their displeasure, it could never have been done” said Seitler.
Board member Yisroel Friedman tells TLS he too was pleased with the outcome of the budget.
“I want to congratulate the Finance Committee Chairmen Chesky Seitler and Committee members Zecharia Greenspan and Meir Grunhut for working tirelessly through the night to come up with a budget that not only keeps all the children both public and private best interests in mind, but is also fiscally responsible to the hard working taxpayer.”
Voting to approve the budget, were Seitler, Silver, Greenspan, Friedman, Grunhut and Zlatkin. Tift and Fink voted against it. Irene Miccio is disqualified from voting on the budget being that she has a family member in the district, a board member said. TLS.