Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finally some good news

We have been teased for a couple years now about property tax relief through gambling revenues, and now it appears the state is ready to make good on its promise. According to Neshaminy officials, the district will receive nearly $3.6 million to be distributed among the 16,600+ approved homesteads. This translates into a $216 credit on your school tax bill in July.

Please keep in mind that this does not affect the district's Act 1 budget limitations, so we must continue to find ways of reducing our spending.

So what do you think about this tax credit . . . happy? Disappointed? Surprised it even happened? Complete the survey to the right, and add your comments to this post.


finance question said...

from reading the paper, looks like we are going to have a big tax hike. I'm glad we have the rebate to help with costs.

Looks like many (if not most) of the other district residents will see less tax next year because of the rebate but our district will still see a tax hike.

Mr. O'Connor-What is financially so different in our district? Did we make bad investments or is it teacher contracts and renovation? Or something else altogether?

William O'Connor said...

No question that our current teachers contract has much to do with our financial situation. I believe we're the only district remaining in Bucks where teachers do not contribute towards their healthcare benefits. If the new contract includes employee contribution towards healthcare similar to what we see in nearby districts, taxpayers would see a 7-digit reduction in our expenditures.

Facilities are also a problem. We have an opportunity to consolidate at least one, possibly more, buildings in the next couple of years. You could make the argument had we built a new high school as originally planned, 9th grade would already be up at NHS and a middle school, and possibly an elementary school, would already be closed.

We're also hurt by the current investment market as are most other institutions and corporations. It's not a result of "bad" investment strategy but rather what happens when interest rates spiral down. To consumers, it's a good thing. Many investers might feel otherwise.

How we got here isn't a simple question to answer, but I can tell you that this didn't just happen overnight. Fair or unfair, the current board must now deal with the situation at hand, and find ways of running this school district based on the limited funding available to us.

Anonymous said...

Let's be careful not to try and "apply" this rebate against any potential tax increase. The district must find ways to control costs. This is not a rebate from the district, but from the state. The district has no choice legally but to return this money to the tax payer. Let's not confuse the two issues. Mr. O'Connor is correct in that health care costs and building consolidations (which lead to staff reduction) are the ways to tame this monster of a budget.

Anonymous said...

Let's not take the business manager's excuses hook line and sinker. True the teachers' contract will account for tax increases, but an average of $350 per tax payer?? Come on people, this business manager is responsible for bringing in an out of control budget, and the teachers' contract is not solely to blame.

William O'Connor said...

I think you're being a little harsh on our business manager, Mr. Paradise. For the 8 years I've been attending board meetings, I've witnessed him time and time again encouraging the board to make financial decisions that weren't popular at the time, but ultimately have led us to where we are today because previous boards didn't take his advice.

Tired of Pandering said...

Mr O'Connor, I would recommend another option on your poll -- None of the above. I would rather have had the money used for a greater good -- and probably had an additional 10% available if there had been the reduced overhead of having to send these out to every 'homestead' in the district.

I am not one to easily turn down a couple of hundred dollars, but given the financial position the school district is currently in, and the ever increasing costs as we move forward, I would have preferred to see the 3.6 million put toward the children of this community.

This wouldn't be a blank check for the board and administration to do as they please, but rather an opportunity for the NSD (after it put the rest of its financial house in order) to step up to the plate and begin to do something revolutionary for the children.

Some examples might include:

1) Upgrading the computer labs, and curricula, in our elementary schools to really begin preparing our children early

2) Develop and support an improved academic enrichment program so that these children aren't relegated to learning from a rolling cart or the back of some class or gymnasium

3) Providing cooperative learning/work programs for high school students to help them in making life choices

I am sure that with a little thought a great deal more good could have been done with this money to bring NSD up to one of the most respected/innovative school districts in Bucks.

William O'Connor said...

Dear Pandering: That is most admirable of you, and I wish we could get more State funding for our educational programs. But the manner in which this rebate was distributed is prescribed by law under Act 1.

You're a very generous, thoughtful member of our community. Thank you for sharing your feelings.