Metzger blasts governor’s Roscoe veto
ROSCOE, NY — Newly sworn-in State Senator Jen Metzger is criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his veto of a bill that would have allowed the Roscoe Central School District to avoid a claw-back of $1.11 million in building aid from the state. The move comes because there was a late filing of some paperwork regarding the installation of a heating system at the school.
Superintendent John Evans said the issue dates back several years, and the contractor who installed the heating system went through a bankruptcy and a lawsuit with the district, which resulted in the delay in the paperwork. He also said the New York State Education Department (SED) did not tell the district the bill was late until 30 months after it was due.
The state legislature unanimously passed legislation that would have allowed Roscoe and three other districts in the state to avoid the claw-backs or fines. In December, before Metzger was sworn in, she sent a letter to Cuomo urging that he sign the bill, arguing that the penalty would, “eviscerate their allowable growth under the real property tax cap and would create real financial hardship for the school community and taxpayers.”
Cuomo vetoed the bills. The governor, however, has signed similar legislation for two other districts earlier in the year, in effect granting amnesty to those schools.
Evans said the situation is frustrating because the impact on Roscoe, as a percentage of the budget, was more harmful than the claw-back would have been in one of the amnestied districts. The governor’s rationale for bailing out the North Syracuse School District was that the impact would have been large.
Evans said the law that triggered the claw-back was a “bad law,” and it has since been changed. But there are a few districts that still have capital projects that date back to the years before the law was updated. Roscoe must now reimburse the SED to the tune of about $100,000 per year on a budget of about $9 million annually.
He added, however, that Metzger and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther will continue to pursue the matter, and will once again try to introduce legislation to deal with the matter later in the session.
“The decision to deny amnesty to the Roscoe Central School District is arbitrary and a great injustice to students, educators and taxpayers, who are faced with a major and unnecessary fiscal burden,” said Metzger. “Every child in New York, regardless of zip code, deserves a quality education and a safe learning environment. We are obligated to provide the same educational opportunities to all of our students.”