Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Week’s Howler

It’s tough coming up with something more ‘laughable’ then Rich Ellis’ statements of concern about how to mitigate the effect of major property tax increases on behalf of the school department.

So we’ve had to search far and wide for something in the same class.  The best we could come up with is this item, which, as the Fickle Finger of Fate would have it, was posted by Ms. Ellis on the Brunswick Clueless United Facebook page.  Our focus in this post is on the latter portion, which we emphasize:

Watching TC meeting. Interesting to note about this year's town School Budget vote in June - there will be two questions on the ballot. One is (not exact wording) "Do you approve the school budget approved by the TC on 5/23?". The other is "Do you want to continue to approve the school budget with a town vote for another 3 years?" Approving the budget with a town-wide vote is not required and not something we used to do, they said. So if folks vote no to question 2, then there won't need to be a town wide vote on budgets going forward. There is a cost to the taxpayers to have the public vote - the town clerk estimated about $6-7000 to hold the vote (especially on a year like this one where the budget is the only thing folks will be voting on as opposed to a primary year). Additional non-monetary costs include disruption of schools to move teacher parking, have buses go to other areas, etc, while folks vote a BJHS. Some TC expressed their opinion that folks should vote no on question 2 so we can stop the public vote and eliminate the cost of it.

You know the BCU; those lovable and irascible folks who think no amount of public spending on our ‘best schools’ is too much, and who firmly believe that constantly increasing spending is sustainable, with no consequences in other regards.  For example, increasing spending by about $2 million in the coming year.

Ever heard of the phrase ‘penny wise, pound foolish?’  It’s filed under “Old fashioned wisdom and common sense.”

A perfect example of the concept is working hard to increase spending by millions, while expressing deep concern over ‘$6-7000’ for a referendum election on the proposed budget. 

“Oh my, Mable!  Get the smelling salts, would you please dear?  We’re about to spend almost one half of what we spend on each and every student per year to conduct an election so taxpayers can have a say on the school budget!  Have you ever heard of something that dumb?”

We’re reminded of the old saw ‘this is what Democracy looks like,’ but we know it only applies to those special circumstances where enlightened big spenders want to overwhelm those who favor careful stewardship of public funds.

So as we often do, we have a constructive suggestion to offer.  Since the School Department will gain millions in funding, and nearly all of their employees will see substantial increases in their compensation, why don’t they fund the election cost out of their budget?

That figure currently runs about $35 million.  Spending $7,000 to get voter buy in on a $2 million increase seems like a pretty small ‘invest and imagine’ price to pay.

Unless you compare it to nothing, nada, zilch, which is what it would cost to get the same increase without the election.  Because we live in roll-over country…Cape Brunswick.

Either way, the outcome is guaranteed.

Just like spending more on our schools is guaranteed to maintain their excellence.  Unless you hold to the view that they’ve lost their excellence, and need the increased funding to have any hope of regaining it.

Wait a minute; we just read what we just wrote.  Can someone please explain why this has to be so difficult?

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