Friday, April 27, 2012

Misleading Budget Data Circulated By E-Mail

The fear-mongers are at it again.  Who they are I don't know but the people from who are circulating these e-mails in an attempt to defeat the Budget are either confused, deceitful or both.  Unfortunately, their attempts to defeat the Budget may be very costly.

The first ridiculous and misleading claim is that the Town has overbudgeted for utilities.  Wrong!  Those of us who receive bills for electricity or oil know that prices fluctuate.  The Town budgets that are prepared in February contain only projections of utility costs; they are fluid.  Rates can go down, winters can be mild.  The Director of Finance monitors rates and takes advantage of market prices whenever he can.  What are the results?  Savings! 

OK, great.  So where do the savings go?  They go into the undesignated account where they are available to be used for emergencies like the Chinmoy problem or other projects that otherwise couldn't be done because of budget constraints.

The second ridiculous and misleading claim is that the Town Budget has grown "7.5 times as much as the Board of Ed."  Kids, if it's your parents who are writing this trash, would you please take a moment to give them a short arithmetic lesson?  Please explain to them, as you know well, that they shouldn't be using percentage comparisons unless the budget numbers are identical.  A $100 increase on a $1,000 budget is 10%.  A $100 increase on a $10,000 budget is 1%.

In addition, even if the arithmetic comparison was valid, one needs to look at what's included in the two Budgets to make a fair comparison.  For example, the Town has all the debt and bonding on its side.  Another good example. Of the 2 million coming out of the Internal Service Fund, 1.5 million went to the BOE and only $500,000 went to the Town.  The moral of the tale is that to make a proper comparison, one has to look at every element of every line in both budgets.

The people who are writing these e-mails are doing a disservice to the Community.  Of course I support their right to speak up but Moody's watches the Town's budget process very closely.  It will be very costly if their unfounded claims result in Budget defeat.