Featured Letter: Housing complex will add millions to school budgets

11/15/2013 11:00 AM |
An artist rendering of the First Baptist Church (far left) and the community center.

An artist rendering of the First Baptist Church (far left) and the community center.

To the editor:

The Rev. Charles Coverdale and Shirley Cloverdale have my admiration for their dedication to their church and community. But the Riverhead Town Board must consider the impact on the whole town before it approves zoning that would allow a high-density housing project exempt from property taxes, which will add millions of dollars to our school budgets.

The town’s auditors have warned of a “catastrophic” tax increase and our schools are bursting at the seams — with 200 more kids than expected this year alone. With the cost to educate a student upwards of $16,000 per child in the Riverhead district, just one student per household in the proposed, 132-unit complex would add $2.1 million per year to the school budget.

The claim that there is a compelling need for work force housing is belied by the limited success of another government subsidized project — Summerwind Square, which is still not fully rented.

The Rev. Coverdale has flatly rejected payment of school taxes because his organization is tax-exempt — the effect of which is to have the rest of Riverhead’s already strapped taxpayers subsidize his ambitious project by a likely double-digit increase in property taxes. When added to a catastrophic increase in town taxes, the burden that would be created by a tax-exempt project is far too much for our citizens to bear.

Ron Hariri, Aquebogue

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