THESE ARE COMMON QUESTIONS I GOT AFTER THE TAX PAYERS RECEIVED THEIR TAX BILLS (Sept. 2005)
Question 1) The voters were told that the tax increases would be 12% with an contingency budget. The voters overwhelmingly approved of an contingency budget. Is it legal for the board to crank up the taxes 29.9%?
Question 2) What is the point of voting, if they can ignore the voting results and go ahead and tax us much more?
to question 1:
I am proud that I had nothing to do with the voter manipulation that was going on when they tried to sell the budget to the voters. I was the only board member who pointed out that former superintendent Baileys figures were bogus and refused to support the budget letter. Board members Mistler, Price, Loomis, Vanderburg, and Riker supported the phony numbers. One of the main reasons of the financial disaster that we are in, is that former superintendent C. Thomas Bailey inflated state aid. The new superintendent and the new business manger are of the opinion that Bailey's figures had been off for years, there was a lot of phantom money in the district's books for years. (This has hurt the school district before. Last year $580,000 of the phantom money was written off on the insistence of our auditors. The inflating practice goes back to 1999. Chief financial officers Nancy Rice, James Loomis and Donna Mistler should answer for that together with former superintendent C Thomas Bailey. We are now paying for Baileys mistakes and the Board presidents who hold the position of Chief Financial Officers share responsibility.) C. Thomas Bailey had also made costly mistakes in budgeting for things such as heating oil. The bottom line is that our district has a deficit which at the Sept .13, 2005 meeting was estimated by the business manager to be between $700,000 and a million dollars. The business manager also said, that if we do not get out of the hole (which Bailey put us in) we might have to pay an additional ten million dollars in interest on the loan for the last building project. The building project was sold to the voters as a 18million dollar project. The worst case scenario is that the project might cost us now 39 million dollars. ( I disputed Bailey's numbers in 2001 and this 39 million mistake would not have happened if my warnings had been heeded. )
DID THE 29.9% TAX INCREASE COME ABOUT WHEN THE VOTERS HAD REJECTED THE 18% TAX INCREASE,
AND WERE TOLD THAT THE CONTINGENCY BUDGET WOULD CUT THE TAX INCREASE TO 12%?.
HOW DID THE 29.9% TAX INCREASE COME ABOUT WHEN THE VOTERS HAD REJECTED THE 18% TAX INCREASE, AND WERE TOLD THAT THE CONTINGENCY BUDGET WOULD CUT THE TAX INCREASE TO 12%?.
The people were told at the time of contingency budget vote, that the tax increase would be 18% with the sports, music and home economics programs almost intact. With an contingency budget, the tax increase was to be 12%. The voters spoke, and chose the contingency budget with a wide margin. The board believed that the tax increase would be 12% until the new superintendent told us what former superintendent C. Thomas Bailey had done. (Explained in answer to question 1 above) The people in the district will be taxed to pay for the maximum spending the law allows, because there is six board members who refused to consider cuts that I had proposed. From superintendent Schoonmakers presentation I took him to push for a 21% tax increase. There was a vote on what to me appeared as a 21.08% tax increase. I was the only board member who voted against the tax increase, because it is paying for a lot of waste. I went home from the August 23, 2005 board meeting thinking that the other board members had increased everyones taxes with 21%. The tax bills came out and the telephone started ringing off the wall with furious people describing tax increases in the 28%-30% range. The most heart wrenching call came from an elderly man living in Van Etten. He did not have the resources and in those cases, the people will lose their homes. Click here to read about my neighbor who lost her home.
I called superintendent Schoonmaker. The superintendent had not mentioned the 29.9% tax increase even once during the meeting when he put the tax increase up to board vote. He now explained that everyones property had increased in value and the tax increase was in fact 21% but with the higher values in Spencer the actual impact was 29.9%. Should he not have told the people that BEFORE the board vote and before the tax bills were sent out? After what we went trough with superintendent Bailey, one would hope that superintendent Schoonmaker would have taken a different approach. I hope the present board will not participate in the under the table acts that the former board did. With them cutting off the televising of the meetings, they can pull all kinds of stuff.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT THE ACTUAL TAX INCREASE IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT
Total tax levy from your 2005-06 tax bill $4,260,419
Less total tax levy from last years 2004-05 tax bill -$3,277,837
The difference equals the tax increase $ 982,582
The tax increase was almost a million dollars.
So was the tax increase right in your tax bills? Lets see,,
982,582 x100 Yes, the bills had it right, tax increase is 29.97%
Every taxpayer should have the above numbers in their 2004 and this years tax bills so you can check the above math. This is the method that has been used by the district over the years to keep track of spending. The government and the press also use the same method. Your individual tax bill might show a bigger or smaller tax increase depending of your towns equalization rate, but district wide the above method shows the change in the total tax burden.
ARE ALL THE SPORTS, MUSIC AND OTHER PROGRAMS BACK WITH THE RECORD TAX INCREASE?
As the only board member who voted against those cuts, I hoped that the new board and superintendent would restore those programs and make reductions elsewhere. That has not happened. There have been deceitful claims out there connecting me with the cuts. I want to clarify that the following Board members were the ones who voted for the cuts: Donna Mistler, Denise Price, James Loomis, Fred Vanderburgh and Helen Riker.
QUESTION 2) WHAT IS THE POINT OF VOTING, IF THE BOARD CAN IGNORE THE VOTING RESULTS AND TAX US MORE?
There is a long practice, one could almost say tradition, in the S-VE school district to ignore the voting results. This is only possible because the majority of the board is in on it.
1) One main reason for the mess we are in is the cost of the unneeded building additions that were built even when the majority of the voters did not vote for building them. Click here to read all about that.
2) The people voted to approve a 4.7% tax increase in 2001. The board ignored that and arranged to increase the taxes with 8.1%. The board members who pulled that on you include: Donna Mistler, Denise Price, James Loomis, Helen Riker, and Carol Maltese.
HOW CAN THE CONTINUING WASTE AND THE RESULTING TAX INCREASES BE STOPPED?
Four votes on the board is a majority. A lot of the mess we are in was foreseeable and avoidable. The abuse could continue until there are four people on the board who oppose squandering and demand accountability, instead of voting for maximum spending that the law allows. If you want to be part of reforming the district, you should become a candidate for board membership. Call me at 589-6346 in March and Ill provide you with the material you need for a candidacy!