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As NYS and it’s counties continue to have some of the highest property taxes nationally, a major component is of course the portion that is your School Taxes. Please vote on your school budgets, we say mostly NO because most of them contain increases, though there are a few we would vote Yes as you’ll see below. We hope you have also looked at Board candidates and where there are choices, that you vote for the best one (that will oppose irresponsibility at the state level, oppose federal intervention and dictates such as common core, and who will support an agenda that truly puts proper education and the kids first, not the unions, not special interests, and not radical social agendas). As for the budgets, consider the following before you vote:

Countywide in 2006 we had 21956 students, and as of 2013 we have 20338 students. This equals an enrollment decline of 1618 students.

At an (2006) average cost of $15974/student, that would equal a decline in spending of $25,845,932.

However, that is not the case as total countywide spending in 2006 was $350,728,170, by 2009 with (unnecessary) increases in Federal and State aid, spending (like drunken sailors) was up to $427,049,005 (note that some of this increase was due to a couple of major building projects such as with Southwestern, but then we must point out that in the same course of events, total debt of $274,351,873 in 2006 had climbed to $322,788,619 by 2009). Our schools systems across the county are almost in as much debt collectively as they are spending.

Since then the public has got wise, cracked down on the school systems, and to a degree gotten some of this spending under control. However, the proposed spending this year is $376,204,605 is still almost $26 million higher than 2006 yet with 1618 fewer students! [Note that we also have the 2% property tax cap now but it’s kind of a joke with respect to the schools. Heck they can raise their levy by 6% and not violate the cap because of all the exclusions they are granted, but we digress as the whole TaxCap issue is another story.]

So what’s to explain this you might ask? We submit it is a combination of a few things we will not be shy about saying: 1- In past years the public school unions have been greedy and out of control, pay and benefits have exploded, contracts overly generous, Taylor laws and Triborough amendments giving them special protections, it has hurt us taxpayers, continues to do so, and we need more reforms therein. 2- The public sector state pension system remains a ticking bomb and a major contributor. Again generous and “guaranteed” benefit are at work and all shortfalls to the pension system are simply made up by cranking up the employer (municipality) contribution rate (or in other words taxpayers are taxed more) 3- We have 18 school “administrations” and whereas the union factor is a part of this equation with respect to some of the administration staff, having 18 administrations in of itself is a problem. Just consider that 18 Superintendents at an average of $125,000/year (Southwestern’s is presently about $155,000) each, equals $2,250,000 in spending, just on 18 (non-union, by the way) people. How about we have one County superintendent for $225,000, saving us $2,000,000/year and we consolidate the administrations overall saving us $millions and millions more. In addition, right size overall staffing in schools to the degree it still needs to be done (some has been done over the last few years), and freeze salaries and benefits for the “tenured” teachers until the playing field levels out (we have some of the highest compensated public school teachers in the entire country). Oh and that pension issue, well the baby steps taken with tier 6 for example are just that, and we need yet more reform. However, now we have this pension smoothing scheme, it is a scam, terribly irresponsible, and it will likely eventually explode that ticking pension bomb we alluded to above.

{Note on highest average teacher salaries nationwide: Please do not let certain folks try to convince you that this analysis or others are skewed by NYC schools data. In Southwestern alone, as of 2010 payroll, there were 30 people making over $70,000/year plus benefits, with 5 more ready to hit that level in the next payroll year. At this level of compensation (for what is less than 52 week 40 hour per week work), in a matter of only a decade these folks are millionaires, on your tax dime!}

{{Source: The current figures were taken from the article below and all other figures / prior year figures come directly from the NYS Comptroller’s Office}}

IF YOU’RE NOT UPSET YET AND READY TO VOTE AGAINST YOUR INCREASING SCHOOL BUDGET (ESPECIALLY THOSE INCREASING BY MORE THAN 2%), THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!

School Budget Facts And Figures

May 19, 2013 The Post-Journal Save | Comments (1) | Post a comment |

[OCDB emphasis added – Cost per student]

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY

SOUTHWESTERN

Proposed spending: $25,857,975 – a .46 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $12,379,950 – a 2.44 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,430 students / Cost per student $18082

Board elections: one three-year term up for election; incumbent William Burk is running unopposed

[Consider: 2006 Enrollment 1609 students, Spending $23,571,756, Cost per student $14649]

FREWSBURG

Proposed spending: $15,506,279 – a 3.35 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,982,166 – a 2.1 percent incease

Enrollment: 848 students / Cost per student $18285

Board elections: three three-year terms and one one-year term up for election; five candidates running: Eric Wright, Hannah Hayes, Randall Wiltsie, Janet Black and Jason Ruhlman

CASSADAGA VALLEY

Proposed spending: $19,967,698 – a .15 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $5,097,060 – a 1.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,011 students / Cost per student $19750

Board elections: one five-year term and one two-year vacancy up for election; three candidates running: incumbent Jeanne Oag is unopposed, Sandra Barker and Daniel Pavlock are running for the two-year term

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE

Proposed spending: $19,535,232 – a 2.15 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $10,806,020 – a 3.72 percent increase

Enrollment: 972 students / Cost per student $20097

Board elections: information not available

PINE VALLEY

Proposed spending: $15,019,537 – a 2.7 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,236,080 – a 3 percent increase

Enrollment: 607 students / Cost per student $24743

Board elections: three three-year terms up for election, four candidates running: incumbents are Jo Anne Anderson, Janie Waag and Lawrence Zollinger, challenger is Angelo Graziano

CLYMER

Proposed spending: $9,750,795 – a 3.48 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,966,909 – a 2.56 percent increase

Enrollment: 435 students / Cost per student $22415

Board elections: no contested seats

DUNKIRK

Proposed spending: $40,923,396 – a 1.79 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $9,614,516 – no change

Enrollment: 2,030 students / Cost per student $20159

Board elections: one one-year term and two three-year terms up for election; three candidates running: incumbents are Kenneth Kozlowski and Linda Guy, the other candidate is Bridget Majka

BEMUS POINT

Proposed spending: $13,119,825 – a 5.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $7,900,064 – a 5.67 percent increase

Enrollment: 772 students / Cost per student $16994

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Lisa Allenson and the other candidate is Barry Swanson

FALCONER

Proposed spending: $21,647,772 – a 2.53 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $6,856,116 – a 3.45 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,209 students / $17905

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Todd Beckerink and the other candidate is Christopher Hannon

SILVER CREEK

Proposed spending: $20,477,618 – a 3.25 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,661,824 – a 2.7 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,094 students / Cost per student $18718

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year unexpired term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Greg Cole and the other candidate is Steven Boothe

FORESTVILLE

Proposed spending: $11,483,188 – a .31 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $3,622,430 – a 3.9 percent increase

Enrollment: 524 students /  Cost per student $21914

Board elections: one four-year term up for election, incumbent Bruce Ellis is running unopposed

PANAMA

Proposed spending: $12,198,067 – a 1.66 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,461,172 – no change

Enrollment: 567 students / Cost per student $21513

Board elections: two incumbents are running unopposed

JAMESTOWN

Proposed spending: $75,369,680 – a 1.86 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $14,641,567 – no change

Enrollment: 5,220 students / Cost per student $14438

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbents are Joe DiMaio and Patrick Slagle and the challenger is Todd Rushforth

FREDONIA

Proposed spending: $28,754,508 – a 2.99 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $15,079,019 – a 2.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,474 students / Cost per student $19507

Board elections: one term up for election, incumbent Roberta Coniglio is running unopposed

BROCTON

Proposed spending: $15,298,333 – a 3.97 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,486,946 – a 1.99 percent increase

Enrollment: 618 students / Cost per student $24754

Board elections: two five-year terms up for election; three candidates running: Jim Farrell, Beth Jagoda and Robert Mead-Colgrove

RIPLEY

Proposed spending: $8,370,065 – a 1.75 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,140,341 – a 4.08 percent decrease

Enrollment: 325 students / Cost per student $25754

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbent Frederick Krause is running unopposed for one seat, the other two candidates are Wanda Bentley and Paul McCutcheon

SHERMAN

Proposed spending: $8,771,623 – a 1.87 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,398,032 – a 4 percent increase

Enrollment: 460 students /  Cost per student $19068

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Emily Kidd and the challenger is Tim Sears

WESTFIELD

Proposed spending: $14,153,014 – a 2.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,678,406 – a 4.49 percent increase

Enrollment: 742 students / Cost per student $19074

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, incumbent Steve Cockram is running unopposed

  • RELATED, SEE ALSO:

Schools Prep For Budget Votes

May 19, 2013 By Gavin Paterniti (gpaterniti@post-journal.com) , The Post-Journal

Ready to vote: School budgets, board seats up Tuesday

May 19, 2013 OBSERVER Staff Report Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

Rotten to the ‘Core?’

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

By DEANN NELSON, Member STTPP

Funds, staff keep shrinking

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (18) | Post a comment |

For some, it was an unsettling tone. Cassadaga Valley music teacher John Cross and another 75 residents attended last week’s Board of Education meeting to voice their concerns regarding the elimination of a music teacher position in the district.

“I’ve done everything I can over the last four weeks (to convince the board not to cut music). … I don’t want to go in there and blindside anyone,” Cross said. “It needs to be said. I’ve been around here longer than anyone. I am not a public speaker, a political organizer, or a rabble rouser.”

His sympathetic story is one we hear annually at a number of districts. And Cross is correct. The cuts are not fair. But neither is the expenses associated with the Cassadaga Valley music program.

According to seethroughny.net, three music teachers in the district receive more than $275,000 in salary. Total compensation of the music teachers, including health benefits and pensions, equates to $386,000. That’s about 10 times more, according to published reports, than most professional musicians will earn if they are lucky.

Is that cost sustainable to a school district of just a little more than 1,000 students? Absolutely not. But if you do not hear concessions offered by staff members in the district to add another position, what other choice does the board have?

One option residents have is to defeat Tuesday’s proposal that goes before voters, which would give the board the option of revisiting its budget. The bad news is the board could decide to put an austerity plan into effect, which is 2 percent less than what is proposed and usually adds to the unhappiness.

No district in this county of 17 1/2 is riding a wave of optimism. Enrollments are declining, programming is suffering and expenses keep rising. At least Ripley – the smallest of all our county districts – did something about it. Voters there approved tuitioning their students in grade seven to 12 to Chautauqua Lake. It stabilized costs, lowered taxes and adds opportunities for their students.

What about the other districts?

It is more of the same. Bare-bones plans. Excuses of state mandates and fewer courses for the students.

Which gets us back to the reduction at Cassadaga Valley. It will not get better there – or any other local district in the future. But joining forces, as Ripley and Chautauqua Lake have done, provides some flexibility.

Chautauqua County residents, however, have fought being flexible for years. It is why mergers and consolidations of the smallest bits of government and schools have been defeated over that past 30 years.

We are running out of other choices.

[OCDB, When funds and staff shrink the first thing you need to ask is are you shrinking existing bloat, which isn’t a bad thing. When a bubble has been created you have 2 choices; Take corrective action and Shrink it, or Continue on til it Bursts!]

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Have you heard that the decision to sell is a no-brainer, we have too, and you bet it is >

1- Does it cost the taxpayers/is it a burden on the taxpayers? You bet it does and is and by no small measure. $14+ million in taxpayer subsidies over the last 1/2 decade and in the hole another $3+ million for next year (and ongoing). This has a dramatic effect on our property taxes.

(Consider this beyond just the current year. If the Home were sold today it would not be only yield a “net” gain for the county coffers of $6+ million, but it would also avert next years $3.3 million loss, and the year after and after and after. Over a decade that’s over a $30 million swing from the bad to the good, and furthermore add in the taxes that would be paid by a private owner of say approx $1 million a year and now it’s $40+ million swing over a decade, and that’s huge!)

(Consider to the arguments we heard not to long ago about reducing the size of the legislature, downsizing, right sizing, limiting county gov, all to save $54k a year and all those remarks by some of the same legislators we have today about savings the tax payers money. That amounted to $ cents folks, yes pennies. With the issue of the Home we are really are talking about size and scope of government and right sizing in a substantial way and not about $ cents but rather $dollars, and a lot of them!)

2- Can a combination of cost savings, revenue enhancements, and union concessions end the taxpayer subsidies (IGT monies=county/fed tax dollar bailouts)? NO, the ad-hoc panel, though union heavy and biased in favor of continuing to run the home as a CSEA unionized government enterprise, proved that. They could not even come close to saving $2.3 million, let alone the $3.3 million actually necessary for the home to be revenue/tax neutral and self-sustaining.

(It should also be noted that CGR themselves never asserted that we could ever achieve enough savings ect. to operate without losses end tax payer subsidies for the home, but rather they only asserted that some of the suggestions could lessen them if that was the course chosen.)

3- The county home as a business model? Well first and foremost it isn’t. The home does not truly compete with any other nursing home due to special rules as a government entity, normally guaranteed taxpayer backed funding, and so on. In the real world when your taking in $20 million in revenues and have $14 million in personnel costs (that’s the present ratio, without IGT subsidy money), it is unsustainable and a failing model.

(To this end we would strongly suggest reading the opinions and position taken by the Chamber of Commerce. They represent 100’s of successful businesses, large and small, union and non-union, many of whom are associated with healthcare, and who are proven business leaders that known what a successful business model truly is.)

4- Well how then can a private sector firm make the home work? They can better control personnel costs, would not be locked into uncontrollable and skyrocketing pension costs for one thing, and that can innovate whereby measures can be taken to enhance revenues that the home is presently limited by law. There are certain services they are not allowed to provide according to state rules but a private sector facility is not limited as such.

5- Quality of care will decline? No, the home is presently an average facility by state standards and a below average facility by national standards. The reality is that quality of care, due to competition, private sector efficiency, and other factors, will actually improve.

(According to Medicare, which rates nursing homes, the highest quality care in our county is provided by for-profit nursing home facilities. more on that in a moment)

6- Current residents will be put out or shipped away to some other home in some far away location? No. It has already been stipulated as part of sale conditions that the new owner of the home will have to keep all existing residents. Once a contract is finalized this will be an iron clad stipulation.

7- Current employees will be put out of a job (and end up on welfare and in the soup lines, yes a union official actually said that!)? Give us a break, No. First of all again there are sale conditions and it will be part of the sale contract that current employees will be offered to retain their job. There will certainly be negotiations, potential retirements incentives for some of the very high paying positions, some changes in benefit structure to be sure (see sign above – facing reality), and the bottom line is most it not all of the workforce will be retained (without the CSEA and their forced unions dues of course). Just think about it, an employee could be paid less and because no union dues deduction, could actually be paid the same. Or an employee could be paid the same, and because no union dues deduction it would be like getting a raise.

(Now on that soup lines comment, how insulting. Union bosses should be ashamed, and union employees should be pissed at such a remark that they are thought so low of. The reality is that these employees are skilled workers with specific training, and even if they were laid off they would likely collect maximum unemployment not welfare, however more likely is that due to their experience they would be hired for a comparable job at one of the many other nursing home operations around the county!)

8- When it comes to personnel cost controls, the non-union administrators are as big a part of the problem as the union employees? No. The home is 98% CSEA and there are a whole 4 people who are non-CSEA. Unlike the union employees, these 4 have not had a raise in 3-4 years.

(did you know that most of the government homes that have been privatized still ended up with union representation, in almost every case they ended up being represented by the SEIU. How wonderful, now you can all stop whining about loosing your union representation.)

9- Chautauqua County is taking unprecedented action in selling their home? No. only about 1/2 the counties in NY still have a government-run home and many of them are in one stage or another to privatize just like we are doing. For example Albany county, Onondaga County, Orange county, Broome county, and Ulster county. Only two counties have actually closed down their home that we know of, years ago Dutchess and Niagara counties. “County-owned nursing homes have, in particular, become albatrosses around counties’ necks” and “It’s up to us in this state to confront what is a government structure that all too often is antiquated and outmoded.” are two quotes often attributed to this discussion.

10- It’s a partisan political issue? No. Well ok maybe for a few individuals and maybe in one regard with respect to the opposition (more on that later) but as for the effort to sell it is not: First look at other counties, some are Republican majorities and some are Democrat majorities, and furthermore look at some of the individuals that are trying to do the right thing because they know and understand what that is. Democrat Legislator Nazzaro for example, who is in the healthcare industry and the administrative end of such, he has no doubt that a self-sustaining model as a government-run facility is impossible, that the county home is fiscally failing, that only average at best services for such a high cost should no longer be acceptable, and that his responsibility as a legislator is clear. Too bad we can’t say that for all of them!

10b- About those supposed CSEA “government” union concessions, are they real? How much will they really help? What’s the real details? Now we’re getting into some complications and let’s start by talking about the partisan issues because where they do exist, they exist with the union leadership and a few certain “beholden legislators”. The leadership is being disingenuous about a number of things, has been the number one purveyor of scare tactics, has set forth a scenario that is them vs. everybody else, and there a few legislators that are enablers for them. Ahlstrom, a long time city of Dunkirk worker and AFL-CIO member which is a direct affiliate of the CSEA. Dejoe, who is a former County worker and CSEA member. Whitney who is a union boss from Jamestown. Cornell who is high in the leadership of the County Democrat party (along with a family member being a vice chair) and who is 100% pro-union and will always get the CSEA endorsement anytime she runs for an office, who now serves with and is a main supporter of, the new Dem Chair, the conflicted unethical, and again 100% pro-union, Norm Green, and let’s not forget who the new Vice Chair is, Williams Jr of the CSEA. So, hmm, some partisanship, yea you bet. [As a footnote, there is also Hoyer who is so pro-government that surely he is pro-government union, with him though the real issue is that he’s so far left into social justice ideology and rhetoric that there is simply no reasoning with him.] [Footnote2, understand that Ahlstrom’s issue isn’t just what we described above but is also, significantly, that the Home is in his district, and of course all the emotions along with it. Futhermore, he isn’t voting not to sell the home at Cornell’s behest who just helped push him out as Dem chair, no there is a rift between them, and it primarily centers around his desire to stick with the more moderate Congressional candidate Lori Burke as opposed to the farther left Shinagawa that Cornell and Co are stuck on.]

10c- About those supposed CSEA “government” union concessions, are they real? How much will they really help? What’s the real details? On to the more important stuff, here’s how it breaks down: You may recall this whole process did not start out with concessions but rather the CSEA wanting outrageous increases, and only after said outrage by the public and certain officials did some concessions start coming to the table. You should be reminded that last year during our budget crisis and cuts across all departments, the Home offered and contributed nothing towards solving our deficit problems. Now they are touting 1.7 million in concessions and calling them savings. No they are not, they are less increases (and it should be noted that even with a 0.00 increase in the Homes workforce budget, they will still loose 3.3 million next year). Worse yet they tout them as if they directly impact the Home budget when in fact only a fraction of the 1.7 million would impact it. Furthermore the CSEA’s local bosses along with the Buffalo and Albany bosses are flatly rejecting any further concessions, and the petition of over 1/2 the county members to their leadership asking for them to be more reasonable and do more is also being flatly rejected. Add to that some audacious rhetoric coming out of their followers of blind allegiance, such as how the County Sheriff should be cut more and the money given to them, which Fagerstrom and Co are not denouncing. Finally, here’s a real whopper, CSEA head Fagerstrom recently penned a letter to the Legislature that “…as of August 2011 there was no indication that the county home was in distress”. Are you kidding, where were you guys – see the comments above about the budget woes last year, and add to that all the debate about IGT money at that time. Give us a break, that is a statement of utter dishonesty, incompetence, or a combination of both. Lastly, is this is extremely important: The CSEA is not proposing to forgo this 1.7 million, in effect leveling the playing field, and getting a fresh start, NO they are only offering to put them off for 2 years and then they want them all back. The bottom line regardless of all of this is that unless they are willing to do way, way more, it’s not enough!

11- What is truly the overall public opinion on this issue? Well we should start by saying that those making the most noise about continuing a government-run facility are the employees and of course their union, and that stands to reason. Add to that a few others speaking out in their favor who are their friends and family, as well as some of those who are residents, and of course that stands to reason as well. However, it should also be understood that they are a minority, and in the case of the first example – a special interest group that is in fact an arm of the government itself. They seek the Legislature to make a decision for the few over the many, and for a special interest over the general welfare of the county as a whole, and as such they seek a decision that is not in keeping with the responsibility and duty of these Legislators.

Now look at those in favor of making the fiscally prudent choice, and a choice in keeping with the proper role of government: The Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Assoc. as mentioned above; the Editorial Boards of both newspapers; Certainly as many county taxpayers as there are home employees and residents for that matter, and these constituents who have written letters to the editor, or called their legislators, or pleaded to their town representatives, are composed of people in the private sector some of whom work at private care facilities or have loved ones in private care facilities, but some of whom are also home employees who concede that their own union’s position is flawed if not outright wrong (more on that later). Finally, there are also the town officials who have sent resolutions to the Legislature urging the sale. These officials obviously have experience in governance, economics, budgets, and some also in healthcare. They understand how county property taxes affect their own efforts to hold the line on property taxes as well as how they contribute to the overall high burden of property taxes we have in NYS and no less our county, and they are rightfully concerned not to mention properly representing their own constituencies that have spoken out to them.

12- What is actually the IGT money? and what about those surpluses the Home has had at times in the past? Well let’s start with the surplus issue, and first and foremost be clear that any surplus which has ever existed has been a surplus of tax payer monies. These are not profits, they are an excess allocation of tax monies that were only so due to IGT funding. Furthermore, no government enterprise within the larger scope of government, ie. county gov in this case, should have such an excess. Only the County gov itself is to maintain a fund balance as a matter of sound fiscal policy as set by rules of the state comptroller, not sub-agencies below it.

As for the IGT issue, it must be put in proper context and that starts with the full name “Inter Governmental Transfers” or one government transferring monies to another, and of course those monies are tax dollars. These are subsidies and what happens is that the county government is allocating some of our county taxes so that they can put their hand out to the federal government and have them match with an additional fed taxes subsidy. This could otherwise be known as a bailout. Yes that is exactly what it should be called – One part of government bailing out another failing part of government courtesy of the taxpayers!

13- Why can’t the County Home make money when privately run nursing homes can? Let’s have Legislator Borello explain from his recent article: “One of the most common questions I am asked is why can’t the county run the nursing home without a loss when other organizations can make a profit. There are several reasons why a private sector company would be able to succeed in operating the Home without a loss when the government cannot. First, and foremost, is the restrictions placed on county-run nursing homes by the New York State Department of Health. County homes are prohibited from offering assisted living and independent living care which are less labor-intense and more profitable. County homes can only offer skilled nursing. The state of New York will not allow county governments to expand into those other services.” “Should we sell the County Home? When I speak to other legislators “off the record” almost all of them admit that, at some point, we must sell the County Home. Even those who are vocally against the sale of the Home will admit, in confidence, that they realize the County Home will become a budget-busting financial burden. But then they say that they are just not ready to sell right now.” “I feel that “kicking the can down road” will only makes things worse. As Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements drop, and costs rise, the Home will lose value. If we wait a couple more years to sell, when our backs are against the wall, we will not be able to make demands of the buyer, as we are now.” “Right now, we are in relative position of strength. The Request For Proposal (RFP) that went out had 14 conditions that must be honored in the sale. Among those conditions are allowing all current residents to stay in the Home as long as they would like and keeping the home open for at least 10 years. We have the luxury of selling to someone who we feel will maintain the quality of care and honor these commitments.” “If we wait until we are desperate to sell, these conditions will likely not be included as part of the contract. Sound decisions are not made when an issue becomes a crisis.”

In conclusion, we are reminded of some words from the past that are still all too relevant today:

Gov Ronald Reagan, future President – “A Time for Choosing” excerpts from 1964

Reagan as GovernorI am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government.” This idea — that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power — is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

Plutarch warned, “The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.”

The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, “What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.” But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always “against,” never “for” anything.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

Here’s a few others that understood this:
   Excessive taxation…will carry reason and reflection to every man’s door, and particularly in the hour of election. – Thomas Jefferson
  A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species. – James Madison
   There is no part of the administration of government that requires extensive information and a thorough knowledge of the principles of political economy, so much as the business of taxation. The man who understands those principles best will be least likely to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular class of citizens to the procurement of revenue. It might be demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome. – Alexander Hamilton
  An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation. – John Marshall
  In a general sense, all contributions imposed by the government upon individuals for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name they may be known, whether by the name of tribute, tythe, tallage, impost, duty, gabel, custom, subsidy, aid, supply, excise, or other name. – Joseph Story  [and that includes “IGT” “Subsidies” “Bailouts”]
for the background on all of this, reports, articles, ect. see: ISSUES

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Time to Act – Special County Legislature Meeting this Thursday, October 18th, 6:30pm, Mayville.

Be there, stand up for the taxpayers and the general welfare of our county, and speak out.

This failing government enterprise needs to be transitioned over to the private sector if you really want to save it, the services, and the jobs it provides.

As for signs, we’ll take option number three!

Hmm let’s see, from top to bottom:

Sign #1 – That’s what they say but it’s nothing more than a scare tactic. Save it? From what, the bombs, the bulldozers, the padlocks? NO, that is not at all the case.

Sign #2 – This is the real agenda = See sign #1.

Sign #3 – Now we are talking reality, and the proper fiscal responsibility as well as the proper role of government. The choice, from our duly elected and accountable representatives, in this case County Legislators, is clear – privatize the home, or in other words sell it, with necessary conditions yes, but never the less sell it.

No more delays, stalling, or pandering, no more $80k studies, no more emotions over facts, figures, inevitable conclusions, and duty. No more subsidies, no more bailouts, no more sticking the taxpayers with the cost of excessive government, when in fact the same services and jobs could be provided by a private sector entity that will enhance our local economy, as opposed to taking from it.

It’s long overdue, time for county government to act to protect all those families paying property taxes, time to help save all our homes, and the time to act is NOW !!!

“So often we hear from County government that their hands are tied on an issue, that due to legalities of one sort or another by the state or federal government, that they cannot act. This is not case with the County home, it is a decision solely in the hands of our county officials, no excuses”

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School Boards Elections and Budget Vote

SCHOOLS BOARD ELECTIONS AND BUDGET VOTE MAY 18, 2010. DON’T JUST VOTE DOWN YOUR SCHOOL BUDGET, VOTE IN NEW BOARD MEMBERS TOO. SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS HAVE BEGUN AND THERE ARE INCUMBANTS NEEDING AN OUSTING AND VACANT SEATS NEEDING FILLED.

You know why we need new people in the realm of fiscal prudence, but make no mistake – we need new people to stand up to the radical agendas creeping into our schools everywhere.

STOP THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA FROM AFFECTING YOUR 1ST GRADER, YES EVEN 1ST GRADERS, IT’S QUIETLY HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN CHAUTAQUA COUNTY. STOP THE ABORTION LOBBY FROM AFFECTING YOUR UNDERAGE CHILDREN LIKE THE 15 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO WAS RECENTLY PROVIDED A TAX PAYER FUNDED ABORTION BY A WASHINGTON SCHOOL, WITH NO PARENTAL CONSENT OR KNOWLEDGE. PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS ALIVE AND WELL HERE ALSO, IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME. STOP THE USURPING OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, STAND UP TO THE GOVERNMENT INTRUSION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CHILD. STOP THE ERRADICATION OF CHRISTIANITY AND THE MORAL TEACHINGS THEREWITH. STOP THE OVERALL LIBERAL INDOCTRINATION, TEACHING OF REVISIONIST HISTORY, AND LACK OF PROPER STUDIES OF AMERICAN HERITAGE AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEARNING.

We urge you or others you know to take a stand and run, and to get involved and support those that do.

FOR CANDIDATES Petitions nominating candidates for the office of member of the Board of Education can be obtained from the Clerk of your District, are available now, and must be filed with not later than 4:00pm April 19, 2010, at the office of said clerk. Your district clerk will also inform you of how many signatures you need from qualified voters (regardless of party) in your district (in Jamestown it’s 100).

FOR VOTERS Absentee ballots may be obtained, by application, from your District Clerk on or after April 24, 2010, but no later than May 12, if requested by mail. Absentee ballots must be filed with the District Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. May 18, 2010. If your not a registered voter, you must do so by or on May 4th. (Jamestown holds a registration that day, check with your clerk to be sure of the date in your own district).

IT’S UP TO YOU TO TAKE BACK OUR GOVERNMENT, AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE A LARGE AND IMPORTANT PART OF IT!

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NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops, private sector unemployment at level not seen in decades, tax payers bleed, fiscal crisis rocks nation and the state, Ny property/school taxes some of worst in the nation, Ny deficit at an all time high, Ny spending at all time high, but the teachers unions and administrators keep on bolstering their ranks and taking raises.

Don’t just read this article, read the next 2 entries we previously posted that make all this clear as day. This payroll issue isn’t just happening elsewhere in the state, it’s been happening right here in Chautauqua county!

Report: NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops

By MICHAEL GORMLEY , 03.30.10, 04:15 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. — A study released Tuesday reported that New York public schools have dramatically increased hiring during a period of historic increases in state aid and local property taxes even while enrollment declined.

The report by The Empire Center of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute comes as schools, protected by powerful lobbies, have so far avoided deep cuts during the state’s fiscal crisis while warning that a proposed cut of 5 percent would force layoffs that would devastate education……

“I’m not saying, `Go ahead and lay them off,'” said the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon. “But this is a system that has not been starved by any definition … let’s get some perspective.”

McMahon said large staff cuts at once would be too disruptive. But there are other ways to cut costs, he said, including freezing raises for a year that an assemblyman recently calculated would save $1 billion, almost all of the proposed cut in school aid.

Unlike other areas of state spending, including health care and social services for the poor, school aid protected by the state’s powerful teachers unions has escaped deep cuts in the state’s two years of fiscal crisis and is in line for a rare restoration of a proposed cut. McMahon called the New York State United Teachers union the most powerful lobbyist in Albany, spending millions on lobbying and campaign contributions each year.

Gov. David Paterson has pushed the 5 percent cut in state school aid, which now totals about $21 billion a year. After consecutive years of record aid and local tax increases, most schools have enough reserves to take the hit, he said.

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/03/30/business-financial-impact-us-education-funding-new-york_7476113.html?boxes=Homepagebusinessnews

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Tell your school no way to tax increases, demand accountability!

The schools are now whining and complaining, article after article, about cut backs in State aid and how they now have such dire fiscal problems. Always suggesting program cuts and cuts VS. the kids, now finally we are hearing about cutting positions, but tax increases too !

Too bad the schools have acted so irresponsibly through times of recession, through times of having received record levels of additional Fed/State aid. Look at what they did with it, look at the previous years increase in levels and cost of payroll. Look at the audit reports, for example of Southwestern.

Study this info and then see if you agree with us, that the kids shouldn’t suffer, the already overburdened tax payer shouldn’t suffer, it’s the administrations that should!

So we don’t care how you do it, eliminate positions and cut others, put a wage and benefits freeze in place (and we don’t want to hear any Union complaints, nor administration excuses as related thereto) just find a way to deal with your past misdealings, and proceed forward with NO TAX INCREASES.

History/Context from the Governor and his budget office – 2010

New York public schools spend more per pupil overall ($15,546) than nearly any other state and 61 percent above the national average.

New York ranks first in per pupil spending for school district employee salaries ($7,328, or 71 percent above the national average) and benefits ($2,901, which is 109 percent above the national average).

This reflects a combination of heavy local taxes and significant State spending.

In recent years, during the Wall Street boom, School Aid increased at a rapid and unsustainable rate. Even after the year-to-year reduction to School Aid proposed in the current Executive Budget, State support for education would still have increased by $6.1 billion or 42 percent compared to 2003-04 – twice the rate of inflation (19 percent) during that period.

Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides more than $31 billion in Federal assistance over two years to New York State.

and the schools know this is a one time shot, a temporary measure, so for them to now be calling the end of the program a loss of revenue, or a budget gap, ect., is both disingenuous and irresponsible !

 

 

2007-2008 School District Benchmark Comparisons

Source: Office of State Comptroller, with further calculations by the Public Policy Institute, research affiliate of The Business Council of New York State, and the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

School District of Dunkirk City Jamestown South-western Falconer
Local Revenue Per Pupil Total amount raised through local taxes and fees divided by enrollment.    $7,887 $3,881 $8,187 $5,737
State Aid Per Pupil Total amount of revenues derived from State Aid divided by enrollment.    $9,686 $10,913 $7,088 $8,499
Effective Property Tax Real property taxes (total amount of revenue raised through real property taxes) divided by adjusted full value. Adjusted full value represents a district’s full value minus STAR payments from the state.   1.65% 1.33% 1.74% 1.55%
Debt Principle Per Pupil Payments made toward debt principle divided by enrollment.   $404 $1,037 $1,039 $865
Debt Interest Per Pupil Payments made toward interest on debt divided by enrollment.   $149 $411 $921 $489
Operations Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures associated with the physical operations of the district divided by enrollment. This subcategory may include, expenditures for buildings, maintenance, highway maintenance, improvements, snow removal, water services, sewer services, and general school/government support. Per-pupil operations expenditures may include one-time expenditures for capital projects or equipment purchases. This may temporarily increase per-pupil operations expenditures.   $1,286 $4,019 $4,469 $1,667
Administration Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures related to the general administrative workings of the district divided by population. This subcategory may include expenditures for executive, legislative, judicial, legal, educational, and financial operations.   $549 $256 $569 $248
State/Local/Teacher Retirement Per Pupil   Total amount of expenditures for the New York State and Local and Teachers’ Retirement System.   $936 $607 $577 $529
Medical Insurance Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures for medical insurance divided by enrollment. This subcategory may include hospital, medical, and dental insurance.   $1,356 $1,193 $1,686 $1,112
Union Benefits Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures for union benefits programs divided by enrollment.   NDR NDR NDR NDR
 
Total Spending Per Pupil Total all-categories expenditures divided by enrollment. $18,609 $19,137 $19,323 $14,240

Note: “NDR” means no data reported to state comptroller in this category.

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 SOUTHWESTERN SCHOOLS 

2009  2008 
Total Payroll  $10,944,635.58 $8,675,122.89
Number of Persons 303 197  

______________________________________________________________

Location: Home > 2008-09 Enacted Budget > Localities and School Districts  > School Aid

Southwestern School District: Chautauqua County


2007-08 Formula & Building Aid: $10,730,347
2008-09 Formula & Building Aid, NYC EXCEL: $11,911,863
Year-to-Year Change: $1,181,516
Percent Change: +11.01%

Overall School Aid Increase: The 2008-09 Enacted Budget increases school aid by $1.75 billion (8.9 percent), brining statewide total funding to $21.4 billion. Foundation Aid, which targets funding to high-needs districts based on objective criteria of district wealth and student need, will comprise the vast majority of this investment ($14.9 billion) and increase by $1.2 billion (8.8 percent).

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Open Book New York          
Office of the State Comptroller          
Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Comptroller        
         
Trend Report for Southwestern School District for Selected Categories
Enrollment 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
  1551 1603 1609 1671 1750
Revenues  2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 21,444,111 20,080,968 19,241,329 18,798,484 18,718,834
Federal Aid 977,774 813,633 919,138 886,552 836,886
Real Property Taxes (local) 9,472,293 8,959,795 8,405,427 8,177,858 7,905,826
State Aid 10,994,044 10,307,540 9,916,764 9,734,074 9,976,122
Expenditures 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 29,918,882 24,414,486 22,566,140 22,065,668 20,508,106
 
Total Debt Outstanding at End of FY $32,972,247 $28,173,506 $28,195,201 $29,361,510 $30,700,498
Debt Service 3,041,000 2,927,860 2,867,274 2,896,018 2,927,802
Education 14,497,709 13,679,743 13,092,113 13,039,275 12,438,476
Education – Transportation 1,031,277 918,653 896,605 747,349 616,984
Instruction 11,559,207 10,829,659 10,283,093 10,643,244 10,284,366
Instructional Support 1,043,566 1,060,201 1,091,174 877,558 831,066
Miscellaneous Education 987 1,535 2,886
Pupil Services 622,547 642,836 603,444 552,857 492,885
Student Activities 240,125 228,394 216,262 215,381 213,175
Employee Benefits 4,566,146 4,217,798 4,034,770 3,754,859 2,985,501
Life Insurance 13,111 12,974 12,767 12,368 11,292
Medical Insurance 2,614,963 2,318,169 2,155,642 1,998,181 1,841,562
Retirement – State/Local 167,173 194,772 228,848 245,472 88,475
Retirement – Teacher 726,879 676,544 636,620 514,707 106,208
Social Security 789,925 762,372 776,896 749,475 732,215
Unclassified Employee Benefits 155,156 143,398 139,580 136,562 72,982
Unemployment Insurance 6,226 17,798 25,894 21,303 42,285
Union Benefits Program
Worker’s Compensation 92,713 91,771 58,155 76,459 90,482
General Government 7,814,027 3,589,085 2,571,983 2,375,516 2,156,327
Administration 881,931 819,898 847,449 526,086 458,254
Operations 6,932,096 2,769,187 1,724,534 1,849,430 1,698,073

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State of New York Office of the State Comptroller

Division of Local Government and School Accountability

January 2009

Our audit was to examine the Southwestern Central School District’s internal controls over selected

financial operations for the period July 1, 2006 to September 12, 2008.

Audit Results

The District does not have adequate controls in place to accurately evaluate the District’s financial condition and safeguard assets. This was evident in the excessive fund balance in the general fund over the last several years; the maintenance of several reserves with no demonstrated need for them; and the lack of controls over certain aspects of information technology and leave time management. The Board has not adequately monitored the District’s financial condition, resulting in the June 30, 2007 unreserved, unappropriated fund balance of approximately $1.3 million representing 5.6 percent of the ensuing year’s budget, or nearly twice the legal limit that a school district was allowed to retain. The surplus has not been used to reduce the District’s tax levy. In addition, the District has established various reserves, which continue to increase; however, District officials did not demonstrate the need for the balances maintained. The minutes of the Board’s proceedings did not clearly identify the Board’s authorization of certain employee benefits. In addition to salaries, certain employees were paid for unused leave time, in the amount of $20,414, without Board authorization. In addition, the District does not have a process for tracking employee attendance and there is no signature from the employee or a manager attesting to the time worked. Further, there is no procedure in place to account for leave time usage and balances. As a result, the District’s internal controls were not sufficient to ensure that employees received only the pay and benefi ts to which they were entitled. The lack of a payroll policy and formal written procedures, coupled with segregation of duties issues, lack of managerial oversight, and insufficient payroll certification could lead to irregular activities occurring and remaining undetected.

[ Fund Balance and Budgets – The unreserved, unappropriated fund balance at June 30, 2007 was approximately $1.3 million, which was 5.6 percent of the ensuing  year’s budgeted expenditures, nearly twice the legally established limit at that time (3 percent). In addition, we noted that the tax levy increased by 5.7 percent or approximately $500,000 from the 2006-07 to 2007-08 fi scal year. Even though approximately $600,000 of the District’s unreserved fund balance was appropriated annually to reduce the tax levy, the levy increased by approximately $1.3 million (more than 15 percent) over the past four years. In addition, appropriated fund balance was not used as budgeted. The overestimation of expenditures contributed to operating surpluses for two of the three fiscal years we reviewed.

The Superintendent and Board routinely overestimated operating expenditures for instructional costs, employee benefits and transportation, and routinely raised the amount of tax levied to meet these unrealistic budget estimates. For the 2006-07 year, instructional costs were overestimated by $674,050, employee benefits by $365,437 and transportation by $143,568, totaling $1,183,055. During the 2005-06 year, these costs were over budgeted by $912,086 and in the 2004-05 year by $607,540. District officials indicated that they over budgeted for these costs because the teacher contract expired on June 30, 2006 and was not settled until April 30, 2008 and because of fluctuating fuel prices. ]

[ Bonded-Debt Reserve — As of June 30, 2007, the District reported a reserve for bonded debt in its debt service fund in the amount of $982,570. This reserve was established during the 2005-06 fiscal year and has not been used since then. District officials indicated that this reserve was funded with interest earned on bonds related to a project from 2001. Such moneys are required by Local Finance Law to be set aside and used only for project purposes or debt service for the related bonds. However, the District has consistently budgeted forthe annual principal and interest payments on the related debt in thegeneral fund,  and therefore levied taxes for this purpose. The failure to adopt realistic budgets and properly establish and maintain only necessary reserves has resulted in the accumulation of a significant amount of resources. Had these moneys been reported as general fund unreserved balance, real property taxes would necessarily have been reduced, since the Board would have been required to comply with the statutory limits for the amount of unreserved fund balance that may be retained at year-end. ]

[ Payroll Processing – … However, there was no indication that the Board authorized the extension of these benefits to these individuals. There was also no Board authorization for any increases in salary that were beyond what was approved in the original salary package or when the employee was originally hired. Since the approval of the salary package, two new positions have been added to the non-affiliate group and two positions have had turnover. When the new employees were hired, the starting salary was stated in the Board minutes, but the benefits  and subsequent increases were not. Nine employees are considered non-affiliates; their salaries totaled approximately $380,000 for 2007-08.

Leave Time – … We tested two non-affiliate employees who retired during our scope period. They were paid a total of $16,288 for unused vacation leave and each had 200 unused sick leave days credited to the Employees’ Retirement System. Although the number of unused leave days used to calculate these amounts agreed with leave time records, there was no Board authority for such payments and there is no procedure in place to ensure that the leave time remaining unused was accurate. ] 

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We pulled the most pertinant excerpts from the report. To read the full report go to:

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/

____________________________________________________________

JAMESTOWN SCHOOLS 2009 2008
Total Payroll $39,944,141.57 $29,368,590.14
Number of Persons 1070 622
Open Book New York
Office of the State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Comptroller
Trend Report for Jamestown School District for Selected Categories
Revenues and Proceeds of Debt 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 72,162,163 64,468,502 62,261,384 58,605,860 57,290,562
Federal Aid 8,256,004 9,619,517 7,455,349 7,500,171 8,020,086
Federal Aid – Education 6,214,321 7,440,961 5,055,849 5,413,617 6,059,412
Federal Aid – Social Services 2,041,683 2,178,556 2,399,500 2,086,554 1,960,674
Real Property Taxes 9,906,408 9,485,035 8,924,143 8,664,753 8,761,355
State Aid 53,999,751 45,363,950 45,881,892 42,440,936 40,509,121
State Aid – Education 53,985,751 45,334,267 45,848,004 42,365,414 40,508,933
State Aid – General Government 14,000 29,683 33,888 75,522 188
Expenditures 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 94,602,101 84,357,019 73,429,028 70,275,247 75,105,222
Debt Service 7,162,926 6,502,304 5,686,853 5,495,036 4,166,773
Education 52,240,552 50,280,958 47,882,611 46,049,929 46,323,838
Education – Transportation 1,140,571 935,548 1,282,028 900,456 631,313
Instruction 43,432,175 42,225,494 39,528,852 38,273,810 39,608,379
Instructional Support 5,122,233 4,547,721 4,612,673 4,586,390 3,842,470
Pupil Services 2,028,378 2,078,154 1,972,771 1,840,589 1,829,054
Student Activities 517,195 494,041 486,287 448,684 412,622
Employee Benefits 14,045,496 13,191,688 12,089,349 11,101,205 9,347,076
Life Insurance 51,393 52,303 48,090 54,316 48,744
Medical Insurance 5,903,965 5,804,938 5,058,605 4,526,450 4,631,304
Retirement – State/Local 634,872 710,477 691,819 962,378 152,826
Retirement – Teacher 2,371,991 2,409,502 2,083,443 1,375,465 927,779
Social Security 2,720,532 2,593,099 2,465,863 2,365,716 2,350,184
Unclassified Employee Benefits 2,085,190 1,290,487 1,372,298 1,561,587 927,804
Unemployment Insurance 41,415 62,306 76,227 43,859 110,701
Union Benefits Program
Worker’s Compensation 236,138 268,576 293,004 211,434 196,774
General Government 21,153,127 14,382,069 7,770,215 7,629,077 15,267,535
Administration 1,266,725 1,084,115 1,102,277 1,069,357 1,060,354
Operations 19,886,402 13,297,954 6,667,938 6,559,720 14,207,181

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25 @ $650K vs. 15 @ $3M

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