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    « Rye City School District Board of Education Meeting Notes - 05/04/2010 | Main | Bertrand de Frondeville: Vote NO on Rye School Budget May 18th »

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    Bertrand de Frondeville

    I found that a follow up posting was necessary to pass through the wordl limit, so I conclude after facts 1 & 2 on excess margins as utterly unnecessary WASTE:

    ● Eliminating these Excess Margins of $2.3-4.3 million can be done immediately with absolutely NO IMPACT whatsoever ON ANY STUDENT, STAFF OR PROGRAM. Yet, despite repeated urgings, the Board has avoided addressing this plain WASTE issue for years.

    Our State Comptroller has called them illegal (WSJ 04.29)… If “the people” say NO, a moderate approach is a minimum $1.5 M reduction, enough below “contingency budget” to ensure passage. We are working with the State Comptroller’s Office to ascertain that we have a few years to address the other $0.8-2.8 million of over-taxation, and then discuss other WASTE items worth $7-9 million.

    There will be money for new science labs, regulation field, and “Return-to-taxpayers” a la Scarsdale, even for seeding squash and crew “clubs”, all to ensure sustainable excellence in education.
    Any questions?
    Bertrand de Frondeville, 967 4970
    bbdf@defrondeville.com

    Bertrand de Frondeville

    Dear Charmian, Friends, Parents: Try as you may, 3 facts are starkly simple: (this may take 2-3 postings)

    ● There is $2-4million of outright WASTE in excess margins (actual-audited vs. budget) EVERY YEAR since 2001 on 3 large items alone: Salaries, Benefits, Revenues other-than-Property Tax, as shown on p.6-1 and 10-1 of budget books (Rye Library).

    This is the range over the past 8 years, averaging $2.6M/y, cumulating to $21M by the last audited year 2009-09, and to $23.7 million when adding this budget’s estimates. Bob Zahm, who recently resigned from the Board after his NO vote, added another $300,000 of smaller items, also ignored by the Board, for a $2.3-4.3M range.

    ● This $2.3-4.3M over-taxation is all unjustifiable WASTE because there is a huge General Fund Balance of $10.45 million in reserves (30Jun09, p.6-3), far beyond any top rating requirement. This $10.45M includes a $2.74M Undesignated Fund Balance for any emergency.


    Respectfully submitted, Bertrand de Frondeville, 914 967 4970, bbdf@defrondeville.com

    Prof Cynic

    Wait, Friends of the RCSD are kidding, right? They must be otherwise how could they say that "an additional $775,000 was cut from this year's budget"? The way I read it, the budget has been increased by almost $1million, not cut. Spending is to be higher next year, not lower.

    tedc

    Behold the usual tax increase whitewash with a ‘kick the can down the road’ to November ploy where the author will then undoubtedly discover and shout about the gross inadequacy of any Albany candidate attempting to replace Suzi Oppenheimer and Steve Otis.

    Tomorrow I bet Jay invites Mr. de Frondeville’s group make their case here. For any who might think the $8 to 10 million in annual savings he will identify is fictitious, look below to this previous post indicating the potential savings figures being developed on Long Island.

    New York Post – Monday March 29, 2010

    PROPERTY TAX CRUSH – MADE IN ALBANY

    The good news for taxpayers in most of New York is that you can lower your property taxes this year by voting "no" on your local school budget. The bad news is that your state legislators are trying hard to change the law -- to fix it so you can't.

    By a vote of 56-2, the state Senate recently passed a bill obscenely misnamed the Education Mandate Relief Act, sponsored by SEN. SUZI OPPENHEIMER. The bill would "mandate" a 3 percent rise in spending by school districts whose voters reject the budget at the ballot box. The measure was on a fast track through the Assembly until The Post got wind of it. Thank God for the Fourth Estate.

    When voters reject a school district's proposed budget, state law allows the district to operate under a "contingency" budget of its previous budget plus 120 percent of the prior year's inflation rate. But last year's CPI was slightly negative -- so voters can actually lower their school-property-tax bills by nixing the budget. That is, a "no" vote could actually mean something.

    Of course, districts would feel squeezed -- the state is cutting back on its aid to schools, and most districts have locked themselves in to hiking teacher pay by 6 percent or so a year while providing much better health-care and retirement benefits than most taxpayers can dream of. So, rather than risk districts' actually trying to get tough with the teacher unions, state lawmakers tried to sneak through a change in the "contingency budget" law so that the default increase would be 3 percent, rather than zero. That is, senators already voted to put teacher-union interests ahead of the taxpayers. The Assembly would have followed -- had The Post not exposed the threat.

    School spending in New York is out of control -- and so are the property taxes that fund it. More than a decade of efforts to cap these taxes has led nowhere. On Long Island, we pay $25,000 on average per student -- while taxpaying homeowners and businesses struggle just to survive. One superintendent told me confidentially that funding could be cut by 30 percent in many districts without harming the quality of instruction. Recent scandals confirm that -- the Roslyn district, for example, saw $12 million vanish without its being missed.

    The whole "contingency budget" system was the result of the Legislature's (at the behest of the teacher unions) taking the teeth out of a property-tax cap that then-Gov. George Pataki proposed in 1996 as part of his STAR program, which was intended to provide relief from school-property taxes. Pataki had proposed a cap on school taxes; lawmakers turned that into an ineffective cap on school spending. How ineffective? In the years since, voters who rejected a proposed school budget often found that the "austerity" budget that automatically replaced it actually led to an even greater tax increase. More recent efforts to cap property taxes have either been bottled up in the state Assembly (the Suozzi Commission recommendations) or watered down to meaninglessness (Gov. Paterson's 2009 plan, as well as another he released last week).

    Every member of the Legislature is up for re-election this fall. Each of them should be challenged on this issue -- and those who refuse to commit to a genuine cap should have opponents. Why not vote in some ordinary citizen willing to step up and take a shot? Don't worry too much about qualifications -- the bar is set pretty low right now.

    Lawmakers won't stop favoring the public-employee unions over the taxpayers until the voters make them pay a price for it. They need to fear us more than the masters they now obey.

    Andrea Vecchio is a board member of Long Islanders for Educational Reform.

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