Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BOE Votes 6.41% Budget Increase

By a vote of 7-2, the BOE tonight passed a $59,115,622 Budget, an increase of 6.41% over last year. If my math is correct, this amount alone -- that is to say, without the Town-side Budget -- would result in more than a 4.5% tax increase.

Bill Wellman and Julie Turk were the two nay votes; there was not one cut from the Superintendent's proposed budget with the exception of a reduction in the amount of money to be paid to the magnet school because more was budgeted than is necessary.

Bill Wellman said that although the Superintendent had presented her Budget to the Board with an explanation that it should take into account the means of the taxpayers to pay, he heard a lot of "testimony" about school needs but nothing about the means of the taxpayers. He added, "All I've heard is a statement from Ray Jankowski at last Monday's Town Council Meeting, the Town's Director of Finance, that we ought to be in survival mode."

It was a difficult night to witness. Now the Budget goes to the Mayor.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

JeanAnn Paddyfote

The Superintendent is taking a beating in these posts; it's time for me to weigh in.

JeanAnn Paddyfote is an expert and is doing exactly what she was hired to do. The problems written about in this Blog result from the fact that a majority of the BOE Members are not doing what they were elected to do.

A viewing of the recent Meeting discloses that newly-appointed Member Bill Wellman is asking the right questions and that he is not only looking out for the welfare of the kids and the betterment of the school system but also that he is watching the bottom line and is demanding accountability and transparancy.

What a novelty.

Having a Board Member who actually understands his responsibilities and has the gumption to fulfill them is a challenge for the Super and I have no doubt that she will rise to it, perhaps even enjoying the new stimulus.

People are moving out of Town because they can no longer afford to live here. More homes are on the market than ever before. The national and global economies are teetering on recession.

It's high time that all the BOE Members wake up and do their job.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Link To BOE Super's Budget

This is a link to the Superintendent's proposed Budget that is now being discussed by the BOE. I urge you to post your suggestions and comments.

Wellman, Doing His Job, Incurs Wrath

What Nanci Hutson's BOE Budget story in the News-Times doesn't tell you is that recent BOE Appointee Bill Wellman came under fire at the BOE deliberations for asking an entirely reasonable and necessary question. "What happened to last year's disappearing surplus?" [Update: SEE MY CORRECTION BELOW] he asked, preceded by comments about his concerns about the Budget increase.

Former BOE Member Dian Marandola was outraged and went haywire, saying from her new perch as member of the public that Bill was defiling the atmosphere of the BOE by asking the question.

But another audience member rose to speak. Michel Gutman said that Bill's question was perfectly legitimate and that he'd be asking the same question very a Member of the Board of Finance.

Well done, Bill. That was a great question to which all the taxpayers would like an answer!

Time For Council To Say 'No'

The prior Post by New Milford Native is right on the money. Pun intended. But let's also look at our Town Council. When will its Members realize that the taxpayers have had enough? Will it wait for the Budget referenda?

Let's take a quick look at what's on the table. Sewer expansion, $35,000,000. Library expansion, $8,000,000. Ambulance barn, $3,500,000. Emergency communication system, $1,5000,000. East Street building renovation, a few million. A group wants a new aquatic center, indoor track, tennis courts and soccer fields.

Do Council Members think that there's a bottomless pot o' gold for their taking?

Are Council Members talking to their constituents?

Do Council Members ever talk to the Town's Chief Financial Officer about the Town's finances? Unfortunately, it seems that they do not.

We have a wild Budget season upon us.

"It Is Time To Say 'No!'"

On Jan 2, 2008 over 54 million Americans on Social Security received a 2.3% cost of living adjustment.

That is 2.3%, not 5% -- and certainly not 6.88%.

Where does the School Superintendent expect our senior citizens, our retired people, those entering their golden years, to find income for this proposed 6.88% increase? Maybe they should wear an extra sweater this winter, or skip a meal, halve their medications, or how about get a part time job?

In 2007 we saw this price of oil rise to $100 a barrel. We saw energy prices rates rise over 60%. Now we have a Federal financial crisis that could lead to a recession. Our country is at war.

Yet this year, like previous years, our Superintendent wants more, more, more.

It is time to say “NO”. Enough is enough. It is time cut. It is time to lay off some of these empty suit bureaucratic administrators, time to remove these over priced so called educators who have not had a new idea in years. It is time to cut the waste in our school system!

Get out the erasers, it is time to cut! It is time to say NO to any increase!

New Milford Native

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wellman Gets BOE Seat

Attorney Bill Wellman was appointed to the BOE tonight by a 4-1-3 Council. Mary Jane Lundgren cast the only negative vote.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Republicans Oust McLaughlin From RTC

In what I believe to be an unprecedented turnout, the Republican Town Committee held its caucus last night to elect 40 Members for its next two-year term. For sure, the attendance by 100 Republicans was due, in part, to the controversial prospect of removing "once-powerful" George McLaughlin from the Committee. No doubt the phones were ringing off the hook yesterday as the factions rallied their troops. In the end, despite support from buddy and Town Councilman Bob Guendelsberger, Mclaughlin failed to save his seat on the RTC.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Republicans Likely to Nominate Bill Wellman for BOE

Attorney William J. Wellman is likely to be the Republican Party's Nominee for the BOE seat vacated by Robin Ruggiero. Bill was on the Board some years ago and has been attending the Meetings for some time. Bill is an excellent choice and would bring a much-needed, reasoned, professional and studied voice to the Board.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Historic Properties Commission Seeks Grants

At its Meeting last night, Vice-Chairman Pat Sherry received Commission approval to proceed with applications for State grants for repairs to some Town buildings including brick work for Town Hall. Pat has been having fruitful discussions with the State and was told that grants are available to pay for up to 50% of the repairs to the East Street School but the Town can't move ahead with that until it is determined that the building is within the Commission's jurisdiction.

Capital Plan's "Executive Summary"

I've posted this for the benefit of "Not A Republican Lemming" who is so obviously ignorant of the facts. I hope that this poster is not a current BOE Member who failed to read the $30,000 Plan that he or she ordered! One never knows...
"Not A Republican Lemming" also referred to an "anti-school crowd." Brother, if those people exist, send them to me. There is no such thing. I've heard so many people complain about the waste of money, skewed priorities, lack of BOE expertise, failure of the expensive system, overpaid administrators, painful mandates, under-educated graduates, BOE Members who don't know their job, but anti-education? Never. The good taxpayers of New Milford want what people all across America want from the schools that their hard-earned tax dollars pay for: accountability, transparancy and decent educations for their children.
I spent 22 of the first 25 years of my life in school; don't even go there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BOE New Year's Gift: $61,300,000 Capital Plan

I could have sworn that the BOE employs a Facilities Maintenance Manager. Isn't his name John Calhoun? Why did the BOE need to hire Savin Engineeers in New York to do a "building condition survey (facilities assessment)" to tell it that roofs, windows, parking lots, floor tile, fluorescent fixtures and ceiling tile have to be replaced? Doesn't Mr. Calhoun have the ability to do this himself? What about the Town Engineers, the Buildings Department Officials, Al Russo's Town Facilities Maintenance Department and the Fire Marshals...don't they have the necessary expertise? How much did this study cost? Where did the money for it come from and was it authorized by the BOE?

Here's the breakdown of these "conceptual costs" for the four buildings that were studied: 10.8M at Hill and Plain, 10.5M at Northville Elementary, 15.3 Pettibone and a whopping 24.6M At Schaghticoke. Amazing. Why wasn't there a study of the High School, East Street or Sarah Noble Schools?

Another amazing part of the study is that 26% of the 61.3M ($15,938,000) is for "conceptual" or soft costs: "architectural and construction management fees, legal and insurance fees, design and construction contingencies, testing etc." and "escalation." What are these BOE people thinking...or do they?

How many people are employed by the BOE to maintain the schools? Is its Department understaffed? Is John Calhoun's money taken away from him to be used for other purposes?

How much money has been allocated to capital in the BOE Budgets over the past 10 years and how much of it has actually been used for that purpose? A majority of the items listed in the study are maintenance items. Why weren't these items properly maintained over the course of time?

For the past few years, the BOE 5-year Capital Plan has been in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. Why all of a sudden did it jump to $61,000,000?

A Capital Reserve Fund was established in the mid-90's so that the BOE could do some of the work described in the study. Why weren't they done and what happened to the money? And the numbers in the were they calculated? $1,488,905.00 to pave SMS? Any of the local companies could probably do the job for about $250,000 which would even include some drainage work. Wild.

The value of this project is that it is proof positive that the BOE cannot manage or maintain its facilities.