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A School Budget You Decide On!

 

For the first time in decades, taxpayers and the public finally control their destiny regarding the school budget and increases. Under the new law, the public decides what, if any, increase there will be. If you agree with the BOE’s assessment an increase of 3.95% is needed, vote yes…Disagree, vote no. Unlike year’s past, no means no. Gone are the days when the BOE could subvert the will of the public who voted down budgets to be saddled with contingency budgets potentially higher than budgets they defeated. The public finally has the power to freeze their spending on education.

 

The bigger question is “How is fifty million dollars not enough to provide a quality education in Averill Park”? When did fifty million dollars become an austerity budget? It sure seems like a lot of money! How did 8,000 property owners get stuck picking up the slack funding education when their governor determined the state could no longer continue to fund schools and administrators at current levels? The Gap Elimination Adjustment was put in place to reign in state funding to sustainable levels. What’s the difference between the school district you want and the one you can afford? Did BOE or school administrators consider long term consequences of contracts with raises, step increases, generous unfunded pension benefits and the ramifications of the Triborough Amendment? Did they ever imagine their ability to raise taxes without public consent through contingency would go away? Have teachers, administrators or their unions offered to take less? Should taxpayers decide not to pay more?

 

New York State is broke. The governor took the responsible path to cut spending money he doesn’t have. Households are forced to do more with less. Seniors on fixed incomes are facing unprecedented increases in food and energy costs. Everyone’s paying more to drive their vehicles and heat their homes. Everyone pays too much in taxes!

 

The Rolling Stones once said “You can’t always get what you want…sometimes, you get what you need.”    

 

Now it’s up to voters. May 15th, we’ll all know!

 

 

AP Taxpayers

 


 

$4.9 Million Budget Deficit

A plea for fiscal sanity in the Averill Park School District

 

In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2011-12 executive budget summary on Education and Arts, Page 24 reads as follows:
“In future years, the Gap Elimination Adjustment would be continued and scaled to limit growth in School Aid to sustainable levels. (2011-12 School Year Value: $2.8 Billion; 2012-13 School Year Value $2.1 Billion)

 

What does the Governor mean by sustainable levels? According to the “Tax Foundation”, NY is the 2nd highest taxed state in the country as a percentage of income. (Thank God for New Jersey) For year’s, we increased spending while borrowing and bonding our way to balance state budgets. New York is ranked second to last, 49th, as business friendly. (Jersey again!)

 

So let me see if I understand all this. Our taxes are too high. We borrow money so we can spend more money. We spend so much money; we have to keep raising taxes to get more money. This cycle drives business out or keeps business from coming in and keeps us from getting more money. If we want to attract business and get people to stay, we need to lower taxes, so the state has less money to spend on everything. If the state has less money, the state can’t give you more money. Are you starting to get it? That’s what “unsustainable” is all about. New York State is broke and owes a great deal of money.

 

Nobody should be surprised that the state has cut School Aid for 2012-13, the governor told you he would. He needed to! (See sustainability)

 

Nobody should be surprised that we lost $1.1 million in Federal Stimulus funds from our budget; they told us there would be no more.

 

Nobody should be surprised that a 2% tax increase would not cover the cost of automatic step raises for teachers regardless of their contract status, thanks to the Triborough Amendment. They get raises automatically.

 

Finally, nobody should be surprised that retirement costs and health benefits increase by millions as the higher paid teachers of today retire with benefits. Teacher/Employee retirement contribution costs in the APCSD increased from $419 thousand in 2002-03 to $3.8 million in 2012-13, an increase of 800% in 10 years. (See sustainability)

 

At the Community Budget Forum, Wednesday, February 8th, our Assistant Superintendent of Business, Michael Ouimet gave a presentation on where we stand with regards to the upcoming school year. Based on our projected level of state aid and assuming a 2% increase in the property tax rate (Which is by no means a sure thing!) in order to keep all programs where they are today, the Averill Park Central School District has a budget deficit of $4.9 Million! 

 

As Mr. Ouimet gave his presentation, he criticized the Governor and his policies questioning his commitment to children and education. He referred to what he called “normal” levels of past funding increases when this state routinely bonded and borrowed its way to increase spending levels that have brought New York to the brink of fiscal disaster. What is most disturbing is that when asked after the meeting if he was surprised at the budget shortfall, he simply answered “Yes”. Given the above set of facts and the advanced warning from this Governor on what needed to be done to reign in state spending to “sustainable levels”, how could anyone in his position be surprised? Why was he not sounding the alarm loud and clear that this day was indeed coming? The Averill Park School District and the BOE does not need a financial historian who looks back to the good old days of irresponsible spending increases that put us in this mess in the first place. Those days are gone and they will never return.

 

What the people of this district need are school administrators and a Board of Education who look forward and are willing to make tough responsible choices for our future. Last year, the BOE simply kicked the can down the road. Their strategy turned from expectation to hope. Its one year later and here we are again!

$4.9 Million Budget Deficit for Averill Park School District 2012

  • So what can we do?
  • What is the most responsible course this board and administration can take moving forward?

Lead by example!

 

  • First, freeze all additional spending effective immediately including overtime!
  • Secondly, there can be absolutely no raises of any kind not mandated by contracts!
  • Thirdly, look for shared sacrifice. Propose pay cuts to administration and non union staff in an effort to achieve sustainable spending on a local level moving forward.
  • Finally, submit a budget that has $5 million in spending cuts.

 

The BOE must put forth a responsible budget that spends within our means like so many households have done in this district to survive.

 

AP Taxpaers.com

 

 

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Sorry that we haven't been more attentive to the web site. Life gets complicated and time just seems to get away from us. Its time to get back work and we certainly have a lot of work to do.

 

"Averill Park Taxpayers"