North Rockland is home to the Red Raiders, destinations such as the Garnerville Arts Center and the wonderful communities of Stony Point, Haverstraw, and West Haverstraw. It is also home to the largest tax certiorari in New York state history, thanks to Mirant Energy, leaving school district taxpayers a crushing $ 365 million liability.
Every year, more than $ 11 million continues to fly away to pay off North Rockland’s debt to Mirant. These are millions of dollars that don’t go to classrooms, don’t go to programs, don’t go to hiring educators, and don’t take the strain off the overburdened community of North Rockland.
Eighteen years out of the 30-year bond remains an insurmountable prospect without state aid.
Over the past decade, the crisis has resulted in a doubling and tripling of property taxes; more than 300 positions, mostly teachers, abolished; four closed school buildings; renegotiated health care plans; and the bargaining units took years without a raise. Until a few months ago, when we were able to provide special legislative assistance, North Rockland was one of the few districts left with a half-day kindergarten.
The school district has made an effort to manage its finances in order to remain solvent and survive. The situation remains a time bomb and each passing month brings us closer to the brink: no dollars left in the district bank account and no way to pay the bills without a tax increase never seen before. Without intervention, this unprecedented calamity is a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’ – and the ‘when’ is fast approaching.