Sachem BOE Caused Massive Cuts!Very interesting an unknown "source" is quoted by another "unknown" source. I guess another way of looking at this is that we had 4 years of zero tax increases and now because of that the state has punished us for being fiscally prudent, while the SDs that couldn't control themselves are now being rewarded for being incompetent.
A source close to the state has said in confidence that Sachem has no one to blame but themselves for the huge cut in state aide. They said that the cut should have been closer to 6 million than the 14 million but financial games that the BOE played with the budget over the past years backfired on them. The source said state aide this year was based on a formula that looked at past tax rates. The state was trying to distribute more aide to the districts that had higher tax increases. So if you had low tax increases in the past you got less state aide. The reason the state did this was because School Boards were playing too many games with the budgets. Some districts, Sachem being one of them, were amassing huge amounts of reserves and by basically overtaxing residents. They looked at Sachem as the ‘poster child’ of this kind of a district.
When they looked at a district like Sachem they noticed that taxes in the district were extremely stable and had not been increased at the rate of other districts. When they looked closer they noticed that the district was grossly under-spending the budget every year and reserves were being maxed out. The New York State concluded that these ‘Sachem’ like districts simply did not need the money. While the districts like Sachem claimed it was due to being ‘thirty’ the state looked at it as a simple over-taxation of residents. They wanted to force them to stop playing games.
The formula for aide that the government put together rewarded districts that had tax increases. Districts, like Sachem, that were running up huge reserves because of the grossly under-spent budgets got much less aide because they simply didn’t need it. Apparently the NY State officials would rather see honest budgets that see smaller increases every year than to see district stockpile money in reserves.
According to this source, the district has put its’ self in a very awkward situation in fiscal year 2011-2012. For that fiscal year they really don’t need a tax increase but the officials in the administration fear that they will lose even more state aide because of the formula that is used unless they have tax increases. They said although the district claims the reserves are being used they really are not going to go down. They said that Sachem has already acknowledged an 11 million plus under-spent budget this year and that based on the history and trends of the district they estimate that the money available to be put back in reserve at the end of this fiscal year is closer to 15 million. They said the budget will more than likely be under-spent by 13 million and there is an extra 2 million from state aide that the Board will put in reserve.
The source said that the fact that Sachem is already reporting close to a 7 million surplus for the next fiscal year of 2011-2012 should clearly demonstrate these events. The source said that the real estimate of how much the budget will be under-spent next year is very close to 15 million. They said if the budget is passed expect the board to approve 2 to 3 million in ‘emergency’ type repairs over the budgeted amount in the next fiscal year. They will need to spend money almost immediately because they will have too much in reserve.
The source finally said that Sachem has made some decisions in the past 4 years that definitely has some short term game financially. They said however, those short term gains will turn in to a long term night mare. Retirement incentives are effective for the short run and not the long run. They said by the time this bill comes due the current Administrators will be retired. The current business manager is looked like a hero today but will be retired when the financial hits come.
But the person said if the district had run honest budgets the said aide under the current formula would have been cut much less and that the school taxes would be considerably lower for the past 4 years if they acted responsibly. The source said they blame the state for the budget shortfall but it was their own budget games that created the situation.
No it means the Sachem Taxpayers have been ripped off for years in order for there to be a 0% Budget Increase--that just proves how much money was hidden in the budget for Future SALARY INCREASES.
Taxpayers who continually VOTE YES on SCHOOL Budgets have no one to blame but themselves.
keep Sachem on A CONTINGENCY BUDGET to PREVENT EXACTLY This kind of taxpayer RIP Off.
Also I would like to add the following:
No matter what the teachers agree to and no matter who is on the BOE, The taxpayers MUST ALWAYS VOTE NO on the School Budget.
This is the reason to vote NO & to STAY ON A CONTINGENT BUDGET:
Once a School Budget passes, the BOE/Administration can move money around the various budget lines regardless of what the Public thought they were voting for. Only keeping the School District in a Contingent Budget, for years, will the taxpayers have some control over the growth of spending.
What if the Proposed Budget is actually Less than the Contingent Budget?
Keep in Mind: The BOE NEVER is REQUIRED to have a CONTINGENT BUDGET LARGER than a PROPOSED Budget-but it is REQUIRED to MAKE SURE the CONTINGENT BUDGET DOES not EXCEED the STATE MANDATED CAPs/Criteria.
So Why would a BOE then Put up a Proposed Budget Less than what a Contingent Budget would be?
Although this gesture by a BOE appears to save the taxpayers money compared to a Contingent Budget, the sad reality is that a VOTER APPROVED BUDGET opens the door to spending millions and millions more. This is because a VOTER APPROVED (PASSED) Budget removes the state's fiscal controls (Although minor that they are, they still put some control over the BOE & District0 that keep the School Board's expenditures in check. Clearly, a contingency budget offers the advantages to the taxpayers and provides for the educational needs of the District's children. Voting NO is the only fiscally prudent choice that provides for all.
REASONS to STAY ON A CONTINGENT SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET:
**District CANNOT move money from a Contingent Budget Line to a Non-Contingent Budget Line (This prevents the School District Budget from being nothing more than a Slush Fund for the BOE & Administration)
**CAP-District cannot increase spending by more than 120% of CPI or 4% (whichever is lower.)
**Exempt from this cap-tax certiorari, other legal settlements, debt service (mortgage payments), & costs associated with enrollment growth.
**% of budget devoted to administrative costs cannot increase from what it was in the prior year's budget or the last defeated budget, whichever is lower.
**Community residents are no longer allowed to petition boards of education to put additional items up for a separate vote.
*BOE is ONLY permitted to use funds for those "expenses deemed to be absolutely necessary to operate and maintain schools". That requires the Board to make a case by case determination before each expenditure. (When the Board is not in contingency, it gains the flexibility to grant salary increases, increase fringe benefits, and make unnecessary purchases, all of which do not benefit the schools or children.) (examples: software purchased by a District that goes unused, Equipment that is purchased but is not necessarily needed)
Spending Not Subject to Restriction
Education Law section 2023 identifies the following expenses to be excluded from the calculation of the budget cap:
---Expenditures resulting from a tax certiorari proceeding;
---Expenditures resulting from a court order or judgment against the school district;
---Emergency expenditures that are certified by the commissioner as necessary as a result of damage to, or destruction of, a school building or school equipment;
---Capital expenditures resulting from the construction, acquisition, reconstruction, rehabilitation or improvement of school facilities, including debt service and lease expenditures, subject to the approval of the qualified voters where required by law; this also includes debt service for the purchase of school buses.
---Expenses relating to increases in total public school enrollment, including pre-k, from the prior year;
---Non-recurring expenditures in the prior year's school district budget;
---Expenditures for payments to charter schools pursuant to section twenty-eight hundred fifty-six of this chapter; and
---Self-Supporting Privately Funded Programs.