While local and state governments throughout the country are reducing spending, cutting programs and laying off employees, the largest going concern in New Rochelle continues to increase spending, grow programs and add employees – the City School District of New Rochelle.
Tax Bill Appeals Take Rising Toll on Governments , the lead article in the July 4th edition of the New York Times describes the problem of falling tax revenues resulting from falling house values and assessments across the entire country. Seventy six percent of large counties report adverse effects on their county budgets. Although ten percent of large counties have raised their tax rates to compensate for falling assessments, most local governments are “laying off workers, renegotiating labor contracts, freezing salaries and cutting services”.
According to The Times:
Homeowners across the country are challenging their property tax bills in droves as the value of their homes drop, threatening local governments with another big drain on their budgets. The requests are coming in record numbers, from owners of $10 million estates and one-bedroom bungalows, from residents of the high-tax enclaves surrounding New York City, and from taxpayers in the Rust Belt and states like Arizona, Florida and California, where whole towns have been devastated by the housing bust.
Now, how is the New Rochelle Board of Education handling this crisis in finance? Are they laying off personnel? Of course not! They tell us to “suck it up” while maintaining “no show” jobs, hiring incompetent family members and cronies for obsolete positions, falsify invoices for “emergency” expenses to justify no-bid contracts. Are they renegotiating labor contracts? Service contracts? Freezing salaries? Don’t be ridiculous! They are granting raises all around. Are services being cut? Not a one. In fact, they are increasing services dramatically by adding yet another multi-million dollar entitlement program: free Full-Day Kindergarten at a time when we can least afford it. The New Rochelle BOE has only one guiding principle. In good times or bad whatever benefits the union (F.U.S.E.) is good. Whatever limits the union is bad. And what benefits the union is more jobs for more people for more money with more benefits and pensions none of which we can afford.
Acknowledging the reality of the points made here on Talk of the Sound for many months and The Times on Independence Day, means we should be reducing spending but that is bad for the union bosses so the BoE dutifully buries its head in the sand and increases spending across the board:
- “Officials in some states say their property tax revenue is falling for the first time since World War II”
- “Officials across the country say there is no question that the number of appeals has risen from the usual trickle to a flood”
- “The call for counties to acknowledge the falling price of homes is loudest in states where taxes are highest, or the housing crisis has hit the hardest”
And how could it be different? The election campaigns of the board members are backed and supported by the union and its president, Mr. Martin Daly, who, himself, imposes a $105,000 per year expense on the school district for a job that requires one hour per day for 180 days a year. Good work if you can get it. Not so good for the rest of us.
The people of New Rochelle will never get their money’s worth and will never get what they are entitled to until they vote the incumbents out of office and vote in new people, not beholden to special interest groups like F.U.S.E. In recent elections for school board and school budget only ten percent of the electorate bothered to vote. This means that the union with its 2200 members can dominate every election. Right now is the time to start planning for, and thinking about, next May’s election.
In October, when your tax bill arrives, the tax rate will be 7-8% higher than it was last year. Think about it! Your school taxes are higher than your state taxes.