Statement for School Tax Reform Convention Organized by Assemblyman Greg Ball on June 5th, 2008

Ifay F. Chang, Ph.D. Resident of Somers School District

Background on School Tax Reform Forum (Convention)
Assemblyman Greg Ball organized two school tax reform forums ( Oct. 20, 2007 and Feb. 2, 2008) and this convention (June 5, 2008) with the purpose of understanding the issues related to high property tax and then proposing appropriate legislation to New York State to address those issues caused by high property taxes levied on residential and commercial properties to support local schools.
Ifay Chang was invited by Mr. Ball to join his regional task force which is responsible for organizing the above mentioned events.  

What Are the Results and Findings of the School Tax Reform Forums?
The past two events did raise the awareness of the problems and many citizens responded and some with proposed solutions. The task force kept records of the discussion.
Ifay Chang attended the events with the hope to better understand the complicated issues and many proposed solutions. He is particularly mindful to observe and guide the discussions into a converging common understanding from (1) tax payers, (2)beneficiary (public schools) and (3)legislators, all of their perspectives. Hence for each forum, Dr. Chang has created a web document for the event. They are accessible on the Internet at
School Property Tax Reform Forum Feb 2, 2008 Position paper by Ifay Chang
Web Site Created As Forum for School Tax Issues Charts created by Ifay Chang for 1/20/2007 forum

The task force has also circulated an interim report on the discussion which is accessible through Ifay Chang's website on School Board and School Tax Issues at
School Property Tax Reform Forum (Oct 20, 07) Notes

Statement for The Final School Tax Reform Convention
The draft agenda for the June 5th convention is as follows (changes may be made with late email correspondences):
Review Bill A08775 - This bill can be viewed on the following website, just type in the bill number.
Review each of the following points and how they can or cannot beincluded into A08775
. A tax cap of 4% or rate of inflation for local school budgets with a 2/3 community vote to over ride.
. Allow for some flexibility for uncontrollable cost as well; ie. Gas.
. Eliminate local control over teacher's contracts, and allow the state of NY to negotiate, sign and pay for teacher contracts.
. Eliminate all current unfunded mandates, by either funding the programs or eliminating the programs, as well as restrict the state from imposing any further unfunded mandates on local school districts.
. State-wide Inspector General, to maximize efficiency and cost effectiveness for all New York School districts.
. Zero based annual budgeting process

Ifay Chang has a conflict of events on June 5th, 7 PM (His son is receiving recognition and awards at Somers High School Convocation) As a father and Somers School Board Member he will have to attend the convocation. Hence he is issuing the following proxy statement as his personal input to the convention:
A tax cap is an acceptable solution provided it will not choke the local schools by preventing the local communities to voluntarily increase their taxes to support their schools. A tax cap at rate of inflation for local school budgets is a good guideline, however, a simple majority vote should be granted to the communities to over ride any tax cap. The simple democratic logic behind this statement is that the votes on school budget are generally low compared to the number of eligible voters. A 2/3 majority of a small number of voters is prone to make large silent majority a victim of small group of activists unless by extensive/expensive effort of schools and PTAs to lobby the silent majority into voting. This would be counter productive and choke the communities with devastating impact on public schools. Any damage  would require far more expense to remedy. (Just imagine if an assemblyman or senator must win with 2/3 majority to get elected, how expensive the election would be and we will not have any elected legislators in our government)   
Ifay Chang's website on School Tax and School Board issues:   Ifaychang's bio