For the first time in many years, West New York voters to have a say on school tax levy

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For the first time in many years, West New York voters will decide whether or not to approve a modest school tax levy increase for the board of education budget on Tuesday.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Starting next year, West New York will join neighboring North Hudson municipalities Weehawken in holding their school board elections in April. The Board of Commissioners approved this change via resolution back in August.

As a result, town residents will have the unfamiliar task of voting whether or not to approve a slight tax increase. Those seeking more information won’t find many details by simply reading the ballot.

“Resolved, that there should be raised for the General Fund $18,636,109 for the ensuing School Year (2020-2021),” the question says, providing a Spanish version as well.

Due to COVID-19, the April elections have been pushed to May 12th and those races (and ballot referendums) will be decided entirely by vote-by-mail, following an order by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), citing concerns about social distancing and preventing the virus spread.

This is the first time in state history that an election will be decided by only VBMs.

Last year, the school tax levy was $17,919,335, meaning the difference is $716,774: about four percent more than last year as well as approximately 0.8 percent of the municipal budget based on the $85 million spending plan approved in June.

Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, who unseated Felix Roque one year ago, is encouraging residents to vote yes.

“I am very proud of this change, as it allows for voters to have input on the school tax levy, which impacts the future of our children and our entire community,” he said in a statement.

“This budget reflects an investment in our schools, and I urge everyone to vote YES so our children and teachers can continue getting the resources they need. As someone who comes from a family of educators, I want to send a big wholehearted thank you to all of our Teachers during Appreciation Week for going above and beyond and for integrating innovative ideas as they continue educating our children during this pandemic.”

The deadline for VBMs to be received by the clerk’s office is 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 12th.

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