Do the phrases, “The school system will crash and burn!” and “This will be a catastrophe!” and “The school budget is bare bones minimum!” sound familiar? These are but a few of the hues and cries and the deceptive rhetoric that we hear each year at budget time from the Board of Ed and School Administrators.
This year, the Mayor proposed reducing a payment to the Town’s medical service account by $800,000, thereby reducing the proposed tax increase by 1%. The Town Council approved the proposal but the Mayor’s attempt to save the taxpayers this $800,000 failed because three delusional Board of Finance Members who to this day don’t understand how that account works voted against it. As a result, taxpayers are being overtaxed by $800,000. All the while, these three democrats and their BOE counterparts were making these hues and cries.
But wait! Moments after the passage of the school budget, the BOE and the School administrators were ecstatic about the Budget passage. But what about the hues and cries? How can a budget be described as a “crash and burn” one day and ecstasy the very next? There’s obviously a credibility issue.
Even more, despite the hues and cries, approximately one month after the Budget passed, we now find the School Board handing out raises, additional employee benefits and employee retirement incentives like so much Halloween candy.
That’s because the BOE is totally oblivious to the fact that our economy is on life support and any new tax revenue created from an expanded tax base is on morphine drip.
The BOE needs members who have business acumen. Without such people, the Board’s tax and spend policies will continue unchecked with no regard for the taxpayers and our taxes will rise exponentially.
Over the last 20 years, the New Milford taxpayers have supported nearly $100,000,000 in new and renovated school infrastructure costs.
Over that same period and into the future, the BOE’s abysmal failure to properly maintain that infrastructure falls on the taxpayers who must once again ante-up. The accelerated depreciation of the school infrastructure is a direct result of the majority of the tax dollars being directed mostly towards salaries, benefits and employee-retirement incentives.
The private sector is experiencing many job losses, reduced salaries and, in some cases, the elimination of benefits but not our School system!
Taxpayers would be more inclined to tolerate the rising cost of our School system if better results were achieved. Other than a few students of academic excellence who would excel in any school system, most graduates today can’t make change of a dollar bill without using a calculator. We all want what’s best for our children but, unfortunately, too much of the School budget is about salaries and benefits and not enough about the future of our youth.
It is long overdue that the State Legislature allow municipalities to separate their tax bills by town and school so that taxpayers can see the real impact of our school budget. Many states allow this.
Another reality check. Why is it that the Budget vote always takes place on a Tuesday during the school day, leaving the schools dangerously open with unchecked accessability? Is it because a Tuesday vote makes it so convenient for parents and teachers to vote? Which is more important, the safety of our children or the passage of the School budget? Our children should be first and foremost. Several towns vote on Saturday.
I challenge the BOE and the School administrators to cut out the budget rhetoric and produce better results. I urge the Town Council to change budget votes to Saturdays.