Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Budget Basics

Without any increases in either the School or "Town-side" Budgets, there would be a 3.2% tax increase that results from revenue losses like fees from the Town Clerk, Buildings Department and Zoning Commission. In addition, every time the Fed lowers the lending rate, the Town's interest income takes a hit.

No increases in union salaries, debt service, medical payments or road work or anything else. Everything stays flat and there'd be a 3.2% tax increase. Subtract this from the proposed 4.9% and there'd be a 1.7% tax increase.

What will happen if the voters reject 4.9%? Then very tough decisions will have to be made about where to make cuts, balancing the services that taxpayers demand against their willingness and ability to pay for them. Should Town Hall be closed 1 day a week? Should all capital projects stop? Should employees make a higher contribution to their medical insurance? No.

I think that the money should come out of the BOE Budget, not the "Town-side." I am not in favor of emasculating the Public Works Department or decreasing the level of services anywhere in Town.

Every year we hear the rants of the PTO and BOE who swear that there's no money to be cut from anywhere. Baloney. And then, to make their point, the first cuts they make are those that most affect the kids like pay-to-play. Let's see, there are how many principals? 18? And how many of them make over 100K? All of them, I think.

How many BOE and PTO members are truly qualified to manage or even comment on a budget of this magnitude? Get a group of qualified and sophisticated people together to examine the BOE Budget and demand the supporting evidence - not the hyperbole or rhetoric - the hard evidence. They'll find the scratch, believe me. Open the BOE books to Ray Jankowski, the Town's CFO. He'll find it.

"The economic climate is not good," he said at the Budget presentation last Tuesday. "Do we want to take 2.5 million dollars from undesignated?" Not really, but there doesn't seem to be a choice if we want to be able to deliver services."

"Do I want to use a million dollars from the internal service fund? Not really."

Finally, Ray cautioned the Council and Board of Finance with regard to requests for money that come before the Members. "Every dollar counts," he said. He's so right.

Don't fall for the BOE and PTO hype. Demand accountability.

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