Wednesday, April 26, 2017

$81.2M Hackensack school tax levy OK'd by tiny fraction of 22,000 registered voters

Only an American flag marked the entrance to the Fairmount School cafeteria, which served as a polling location in Tuesday's Hackensack school and budget election, above.
Me and my wife voted after 4 on Tuesday afternoon, and there were no other voters in the school cafeteria, above. Polls were open from only 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

In Hackensack, never have so few approved so many tens of millions of dollars in property taxes to support public schools.

Only 550 residents (out of 22,000-plus registered voters) said "yes" or "no" to the $81.2 million tax levy on Tuesday's school election ballot.

The vote to approve the levy -- which supports a $109 million school budget -- was 341, including 41 mail-in ballots, the Bergen County Clerk's Office said today.

The vote against was 209, including 25 mail-in ballots.

There are 22,732 registered voters in Hackensack, according to the Superintendent of Elections.

Hackensack officials say more than 44% of each homeowner's property taxes go to support the public schools.

The Record of Woodland Park reported the owner of a home assessed at $241,342, the city average, will pay $5,109.69 in school taxes (whether you have children in school or not).

Flawed reporting

Hackensack is the biggest school district in Bergen County, but The Record couldn't spare more than six paragraphs in the Local news section to report partial results of the school election.

Today's story on 3L doesn't include mail-in ballots.

Three three-year seats on the Board of Education also were up for grabs on Tuesday, but the highest vote-getter received only 466 ballots (out of 22,732 registered voters).

All three members of the Team Hackensack slate -- backed by the Zisa family political dynasty -- were elected.

They include two incumbents, Johanna Calle with 466 votes, including 51 mail-in ballots; and Robin E. Coles, also with 466 votes, including 58 mail-in ballots.

The third member of the Zisa slate, Leila T. Amirhamzeh, received 323 votes, including 30 mail-in ballots.

Although The Record provided no biographical information on the four candidates, challenger Patrick C. Allagoa received 199 votes, including 38 mail-in ballots.

Allagoa's name was listed in today's story as "Chimelozonam Patrick Allagoa," even though that was not how he was listed on the ballot.

Editorial apathy

The results of Tuesday's election weren't a surprise as Hackensack voters have always been apathetic about the April school balloting and the non-partisan May election for City Council.

For at least the past two years, The Record didn't bother reporting any biographical information for school board candidates.

Nor did the paper explore issues or provide any details of the proposed budget, which is $5 million higher despite declining enrollment.