"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 2, 2008

Too Hot For Candidates To Touch!

New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief is released, just in time for the election season.

The summary of recommendations is found on page 81 of the above link.
  • They include: a property tax cap of 120% of CPI or 4% percent increase, whichever is lower.
  • Restructure the STAR program to include a new "circuit breaker" to target individual tax relief.
  • Changing State Law and Mandate Relief which will target better accounting of fiscal impacts.
  • Adopt recommendation of the NYS Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness. This recommendation addresses regional services and possible consolidation as well as personnel cost, construction and procurement.
This report is sure to be a hot topic for the upcoming elections and it will be a difficult issue for the candidates to balance between the unions lack of support for the report and the public's desire for lower or more control of their property taxes.


16.10. said...

The problem with the report is that it does nothing to reduce the existing levies that are killing us. If we are already killed by taxation capping increases is kind of like deciding how long our funeral is. This is just a bandaid solution. We need to look for a new way to fund schools.

I have only skimmed the report, but the one comment that sticks out bascially asked what if we only had one school district per county. Might well be worth thinking about.

RWiley said...

If all the money, and all the time, not to mention meal allowances, stipends, publications and room allowances spent on this committee was instead spent on children in classrooms, that would be a start in reduced costs and taxes.

Excess Administration, committees and "workshops" by educators has grown like a cancer since the 60's and has had little if any effect on performance in the classroom or achievements of children. In fact, since the 50's when State exams were prepared by volunteer "Master Teachers" instead of paid private companies interested in selling their textbook, student performance has declined.

Administrators avoid classrooms like the plague, some teachers who are uncomfortable in the classroom seek out and justify "specialists" status
so they can spend more time in committee and workshops than they do with students. New learning gimmicks purchased by administrators come along like snow in Pulaski. They buy into them, waste money and time on them and they disappear like the snow in April. I know of one district that initiated 9 five year plans in 21 years. Not one ever lasted 5 years. Remember the "Compact for Learning"? Boy, the Superintendents kept the Boards of Education and community distracted with that one as they hired new Administrators to manage the perfect solution.

Administrators hire assistants so they can escape their "building" and hang around the district office. Then, the assistant hires an assistant to do the same, and so on.

Superintendents' pay and perks has become obscene. Each building having several Principals is a waste. Their main function has become to protect each other. They represent the State and all their mandates, not the community. Not one of them has ever had the guts to look at the State Ed. Dept. and question the need for another expensive "miracle plan".

Under the guise of safety, School Buses are maintained like a rich man's "Rolls" royce. But if you tried to change the regulations and stretch their life another year, the lobbyist would be on the politicians like flies on a pasture pie.

I admire any attempt at the State level to reduce taxes. But, until you reduce wastes in all local schools, nothing will be achieved. Providing a good teacher in the classroom for 100% of the student's day is the first priority. Anything else after that should be subject to scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

... And Carthage taxpayers will pay 4.25 percent more in property taxes -- after the board finally saw the light and scrapped plans for a 6 percent pay hike for our already overpaid superintendent!

Accountabilty, people! That's what the voters are demanding!

RWiley said...

Since retirement is based on 3-5 year final average salary that 6%, alone, would cost the State Teacher's Retirement Fund thousands in additional benefits to the Superintendent. Will the new Board Members have the courage to grind their ax, or like others, will they get suckered by perks, power and a slick Superintendent. I know of one School District that has a Superintendent who draws a pension from another State. He has the blessing of his Board.

Anonymous said...

rwiley - I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on the waste in schools. Sounds like you know what you are talking about so you must, in some capacity, work at a school. Since the average taxpayer is basically an "outsider" how can we possibly be knowledgable as to what is going on in the school. If you go to a board meeting and ask questions, they only tell you what they want you to hear.

RWiley said...

I have no solutions, just ideas. But, when school boards turned local employee negotiations over to superintendents and lawyers from out of town things changed for the worse. It was to the advantage of the lawyers and superintendents to drag out these negotiations for years while they got rich and the local Boards lost control. Perhaps bringing negotiations back home would be a start.

Anonymous said...

One thing that stuck out to me when I looked up superintendent's pay in NYS, beside that fact that T I's wasn't listed, is benefits varied by so much. I am assuming this is mostly because some are married and have family coverage while others are single so health insurance etc is only for them. This also applies to teachers, right? Just another perk for school system employees to get family coverage for next to nothing. Where else in today's world is that possible? Are we the taxpayers paying for something not needed if the spouse works and has coverage also? I suppose that would be an invasion of privacy if we were to ask.

RWiley said...

"Where else in today's world is that possible?"

Both Houses of Congress and other federal employees, State judges, senators and assemblymen and most anyone participating in government systems all across our great land. I agree with you that double dipping should be addressed. But remember that we have to deal with the Health Insurance lobbies that LOVE the extra cash.

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