Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BOE Hears Parent, Resident, Union Complaints

Resident's Forum was informative and interesting to listen to last night.

One parent complained that he can't teach his kids how to study because Greece schools don't provide any curriculum-related study materials like textbooks or workbooks. The usual photocopies and internet "solutions" aren't helping him to impart good study habits into his children. As usual, he was offered no response at all.

Another parent complained that his kids who attend Bishop Kearney are being discriminated against as private school attendees by the "bus and dock" policy Greece implemented this year. His children must get up at 5:30AM, take a bus to Odyssey, wait for another bus that delivers them to BK for classes that start after 8AM. By the time school starts, they've already been up 2.5 hours and with a similar journey home, it's having "a negative impact on the quality of life" for his children.  I believe he left unsatisfied, too.

Doug Skeet addressed the BOE and drew numerous comparisons between Greece schools and the performance of schools in Wayne County where many similar events (like needing to replace the Supt.) have transpired. Supt. Steve Achramovitch responded about 3 hrs. later during his closing remarks at the meeting's end. He says Greece doesn't make excuses. Technically, I suppose he's correct. It's the Supt. and BOE that make the excuses, not Greece.

A disabled senior citizen came for the second month in a row asking the BOE to raise the income limits for those who can claim the Senior Tax Exemption the rest of us foot the bill for. The BOE decided to hold a hearing on the issue in January. They seem quite open to raising my taxes to subsidize people who need to downsize their homes to live within their means. I find this to be a most interesting position since I can't vote on this tax increase that they can foist upon the masses and which has NO EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT ASSOCIATED WITH IT AT ALL!

On the topic of educational benefit, the BOE also wants to build the new budget "from the ground up" (that's Boily-speak for grab-my-wallet) and they don't want to box themselves in with any promise to hold the reins on increased spending or rising tax rates in determining a total for the 2010-11 budget which is already hovering around $207, 000, 000 !!! I actually heard mention about "the need to maintain program levels." WHY DO WE NEED TO DO THAT?? Enrollment levels haven't been maintained!! KUDOS to Frank Oberg for trying to get them to give the Supt. some direction by aiming for a 3% increase as a target. Shame on Tydings, Boily, McCabe & Co. for shouting him down. At least we get to vote "NO" on the budget! (Not that a "NO" vote ever stopped them from forcing their will onto the citizens they govern.)

The seating study for APAC reveals that for a mere $62,000, two railings can be replaced improving some sightlines. Another $300,000 is needed to rebuild steps in the balcony. They decided to see if they might fund the steps from the potential settlement they might get in the litigation we're involved in. The $62,000 might get funded in the upcoming budget. KUDOS to Gale O'Toole for asking for a priortized list of capital projects that need to be done and seeing where this one falls on that list!

GTA's President Don Palozzi lectured the BOE about needing to come to some resolution on the teacher's contract. Supt. Achramovitch responded 3 hrs. later by stating that negotiations are a two-way process and that it isn't strictly the district who needs to be working to resolve the issues. I bet Don was asleep by then ;)


Anonymous said...

Sounds like once again we will have to get the NO voters out to vote next year. Get your telephone trees updated early next year. We can prevail!

Anonymous said...

I was impressed by the young gentleman (student leader) who admonished the board for not doing their job regarding the teacher contract. He was well spoken and it was refreshing to see that even students appreciate what we teachers do.
A Proud Teacher Who Works in Greece

Anonymous said...

If anyone knows what is meant by a 'bottom up budget' please post it. I can honestly say I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

People forget that many of these seniors are the same people that paid the freight to build the schools that we currently have. It is easy to say that they should "downsize".
I would guess that most people who would get the exemption live in modest homes & are on extremely tight budgets. (I do not include those who use the IRA loophole to exclude their income!) Why should our elderly & disabled residents not have the same modest tax breaks at our neighboring communities?
Forcing the elderly out of their homes would only further contribute to the decline of our town. Many of these houses would become rental units. Look what that does to neighborhoods. Does urban decay contribute to the tax base?
Saying all of this, all governmental bodies need to become more efficient & do more with less. I do believe that it is a despicable act to drive the elderly out of their homes in a community that they so generously helped to build in the first place.

SCATS said...

To Proud Teacher ~~ When I first heard this boy speak, I thought I misunderstood that it was Student Leader comment time. Then I realized this kid was either a teacher's kid who had been indoctrinated by parents, or had been brainwashed at school and put out there to regurgitate the union spiel. I seriously doubt that he has been given BOTH sides of the contract issues to consider, especially since we're all in the dark (supposedly) since it's Executive Session material.

Not so long ago, a 17 yr. old addressing adults with the purpose of "admonishing" them was considered to be insolent no matter how politely the message was worded ;)

SCATS said...

To 9:53AM ~~ This Senior Tax Exemption issue has NOTHING to do with who built the schools. NOTHING AT ALL! People who try to attribute such meanings to this hot potato issue are only attempting to pull a guilt trip on anyone who doesn't fall for it. I'm not falling for it and I refuse to feel guilty.

I appreciate the fact that you admit that you are GUESSING about who gets the exemption. That makes my job of addressing most of the rest of what you said easy. It's based on your uninformed position.

My understanding is that when the STAR program was created the Senior Exemption was supposed to be done away with. For some unknown reason (political, I'm sure), it didn't get deep-sixed.

Also, since this exemption is not fairly applied to people with similar incomes (IRA's vs 401K's for instance), keeping it going means you are OK with forcing one group of people onto the streets at the expense of keeping a similar group of people in their homes based solely on whose finances are held specific types of accounts. How's that for a guilt trip?

Anonymous said...

9:30 Bottoms up budget

Maybe it means that you will get what you want on the budget if you ask while lying on your back.

Anonymous said...

I thought a "bottom's up budget" was where the taxpayers bend over and grab their ankles........

Anonymous said...

Dear Scats,

Your reply to me (9:53) seems to have caught your attention. I was merely asserting an opinion. I would like to clarify a couple of things.

1. I specifically stated that those getting the IRA loophole should not be allowed to unfairly benefit from this. At least that was my point. I take that as an agreement between us on this point.

2. I stand on my assertion that it is wrong to drive elderly people out of homes that they may have owned for 50 years. The vast majority of the district buildings were built in the 60s. If you lived in the town then, you have paid for those & later bond issues.

3. My sister lives in GA. Her already low taxes are cut by a huge percentage once she reaches 65.

I in no way meant to lay a guilt trip on anyone. I feel that considerations need to be made for our elderly people that did so much for the town in the past.

SCATS said...

To 8:30PM ~~ If in doing a favor for the elderly with this tax break it ends up meaning that young families are forced from their homes, are you OK with that scenario?

In a perfect world, no one would ever be "forced" from their home. This world is far from perfect and in recent times many young families have had homes go into foreclosure. Because they couldn't afford the payments, they lost their home. Putting additional tax burdens onto the people who still have a job but are struggling to make ends meet to help someone who can't afford their home isn't doing the community any favors in my mind. We have a 10% unemployment rate! Foreclosures have dotted the map of Greece during the past year or so.

You know what? When my parents felt they could no longer afford the old homestead, they downsized. They didn't expect a handout! In fact, they would have perceived this tax break as a form of welfare and would have rejected it, because they expected to have to live within their means. If an older person or couple is living in the same home at age 70 that they were at age 30, then it is likely they need to downsize their financial burden to something more manageable. If they can't afford the taxes on a 4 bedroom, 2000 sq ft house sitting on the 1/4 acre lot they raised their family in, then it is quite likely they also can't afford to either heat it or maintain it inside and out. At that point (if not long before), looking to buy something smaller and more affordable is the logical and responsible thing to do. There are plenty of very affordable starter homes in Greece.

Burdening the young with more taxes helps no one in the long run. We aren't talking about making people become "homeless." The issue is asking them to pay their share, nothing more. If they can't, then they need to make some new choices just like everyone else.

Re item #1 - I'm not sure the BOE can change that. I think it is up to NY State to do so.

Re item #2 - See above and also realize that many who built these schools no longer live in Greece.

Re Item #3 - As far as I know, people are moving into Ga, not out of it the way they are NY. As far as I know, Ga isn't on the verge of bankruptcy either.

NY State just implemented a HUGE new pile of taxes everyone has to swallow (DMV fees, etc.). It's beyond time to start making some tough decisions. This tax situation is one of them. Don't forget the BOE is VERY LIKELY to raise property taxes even more with the new budget they are formulating. That will be adding insult to injury if they increase the income limits for senior tax exemptions, too. There is a breaking point. I contend we've reached it.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please tell me why this is NOT age discrimination?

It also looks like we have some elected officials who are consummed with taxing power and what they think is control of peoples lives.

Charlie Hubbard said...

About the budget;
2 items we must always keep in mind.

#1 BAB = board approved bussing

#2 BAC = board approved contracts (salaries and benefits)

BAB+BAC = approx 80% of the budget. There isn't much you are going to do about the other 20% (things like electricity, maintainence, ect.)

Don't let the board run and hide, if there is a budget increase most of that increase is brought to you by the 'board'.

When you here terms like mandates, or bottom up budget = lipstick on a pig.

Anonymous said...

Charlie sure does call a spade a spade.

Too bad the board likes to kiss those pig's behinds!