Friday, April 30, 2010

What to expect on Tuesday night

On the agenda will be the "Proposed Final Budget" as required by the State, and this is supposed to be your first real glance at what next year's numbers are going to be. One problem . . . the numbers you see on Tuesday night will be nothing close to what reality will be.

Our deficit for next year, earlier reported at just under $7.7 million, will now be more in the $5 - $6 million range come Tuesday's meeting. That's a long way from the Act 1 limit of $3.36 million, not to mention not even being close to a flat budget. The budget will pass on Tuesday night as a matter of process, but it is far from being our "final" budget for 2010-2011. There are two key issues which remain a question at the moment, and they are the reason our deficit still looms so large.

First is the status of a labor agreement with our Support Staff (NESPA). The Board still needs to receive and digest the report from the State-appointed Fact Finder, then decide what path to pursue next. Obviously this will have a major impact on next year's budget, but we're probably about 2 weeks away from that decision.

Second is the cost of our health care benefits which are soaring 19% for next year. If our new insurance broker is doing his job that huge hike should come back down into single digits, and that will have a 7-digit impact on our budget. We are expecting a favorable update on this situation also within the next 2 weeks.

So the budget you see on Tuesday night will be nothing like the one which will replace it in a few weeks from now. And just to be on the safe side, the Board continues to examine other budget reduction opportunities by vetting the infamous LIST (see next post for an update on that).

When you open Wednesday's newspaper you will likely see that Neshaminy's Board has adopted a "proposed final" budget which promises significant tax hikes for residents, and you will hear gasps and screams from your neighbors. But I ask you to remain calm as this is just a picture in time, and the picture will change drastically in the very near future.

You're probably wondering what you should do next? Easy . . . be informed, remain vigilant, come to board meetings, and continue to make your feelings known. And please forward this post to your friends and neighbors so they understand what's going on.

Whatever you do, don't ignore the situation. Whether you are a parent, a tax payer, or both, you need to be involved. I'm asking you for your patience and a vote of confidence, but by no means should you sit at home and do nothing. This Board will have some difficult decisions to make over the next 6 weeks, and you need to be a part of it.


Hoosier Daddy said...

Thanks for the warning. I probably would have spit out my coffee on Wednesday's paper if I didn't know what was going on. Thank you for constantly educating us about what's going on around Neshaminy.

KClarinet said...

At the risk of sounded like a broken record (a saying that dates me a little), the statement "Max increase allowed by Law*: $3.36 million (2.9%)" that Mr. O'Connor cites again in this post about the "Proposed Final Budget" has an asterisk in it. The asterisk says that the figure "Assumes no exemptions are used." So, even though there is probably no support for using any exemptions among the board members or most of the people who follow this blog, the maximum increase Act I will allow isn't $3.36 million. It's something higher than that.

Mr. O'Connor estimated in another thread that using the exemptions available to Neshaminy under Act I would cost the average property owner an additional $270 per year. But, although I may certainly have missed it, I don't remember ever having seen how much more of an actual budget increase would be permitted (theoretically) if all available exemptions were used.

However off-the-table those dollars may be, I think it's less than complete to regularly cite $3.36 million as the "maximum allowable budget increase," even with the asterisk, and not provide the larger number as well for information's sake. 2.9% is not the full legal limit - it's a limit the board has imposed on itself and not one mandated by the state.

LO in Langhorne said...

KC .... what are you asking us to consider? Until the teacher and nespa contracts are more reasonable, tax payers will not pay a cent more than they have to. If programs get cut in this budget, that's on the unions. They should have done more to make concessions. And please don't try to sell me on the idea that the board hasn't negotiated either because the unions have had this monster deal for a long time. The public made its concessions unwittingly over 7 years ago. Now it's the unions' turn.

KClarinet said...

LO, I'm not asking anyone to consider anything and I'm not trying to sell you anything. I know what the public climate is - we've been over that ground pretty thoroughly and we all have our individual positions. I'm not trying here to argue for or against any of those.

The statement that $3.36 is all the state will allow the budget to increase is incorrect. I'd like to know what the real limit is. Has nothing to do with the issues you've raised, just a point of information.

Str8 Shutr said...

I know you side with the unions KClarinet and you are respectful to those of us who don't agree with you, but really I can not believe you went there. Seriously. How can you even ask the question of how high an increase can be within act 1. This board must get the deficit somewhere under the act 1 limit and hopefully close to zero. Anything over act 1 (without the exemptions) would be suicide for this board.

LO in Langhorne said...

The board has gone on record as saying they won't use exemptions so William is 100% accurate when he says that is the limit under act 1. He even put the asterisk there so everyone knew the board had other options it chose not to pursue. There is nothing inaccurate or misleading about it. You are asking questions that are irrelevant. Who cares if the act 1 limit with exemptions is 10 bazillion dollars? It isn't even going to be considered. This board must get the budget down to between 0 and $3.36 million, closer to 0 if they know what's good for them. That's the only debate worth having at this point.

KClarinet said...

Str8, thank you for the kind comment. Sorry - I just think the information should be out there.

"That's the only debate worth having at this point."

LO, I'm not debating - just asking for a number. (Shrug) Why is that such a hot button?.

And since Mr. O'Connor is clearly the person here who could supply the number, if he doesn't want to supply it, the question will simply go unanswered and the issue will disappear with no further comment needed. :-)

William O'Connor said...

KClarinet - Those aren't readily available numbers. There is some research and interpretation that is needed to determine which exemptions would apply. I would rather not have Administration, who is already chasing down dozens of other questions that I and others have asked them, spend time on researching info that isn't relevant to our situation. If I happen to get a rough estimate on that number, I will certainly pass it along to you.

st319 said...

LO...the board never said they won't used the allowed exemptions, they voted to avoid using them, if possible. I believe in my heart that they are doing everything they can to stay away from using the expemtions. But with a big gap in the deficit, due mostly from the outrageous health care costs and retirement benefits the employees refuse to pay for, they may have no other choice. Bills have to be paid, and the district doesn't have a money tree growing in their back yard. If they go in that direction, you can thank the NFT and NESPA. Don't take it out on the school board.

RVN6869 said...

st319 said-Bills have to be paid, and the district doesn't have a money tree growing in their back yard.

I agree, but to some in the District, there is. Instead of a tree, it is called "The Taxpayers". Everytime someone comes up with a new plan, idea, or request for equipment, lets raise some taxes.

Luckily, we have a current School Board that wants to curb some of the runaway spending. Unfortunately, they are doing so with one arm tied behind their backs.

Without Harrisburg getting involved and changing the way the Pension is handled, we will continue to have to deal with this each year.

I have listened to people say how it will only cost the Taxpayers maybe a extra $100. I beg to differ. It might be so, but the person's property assessment would have to be around $27,000 at the Act 1-2.9%.Not everyone's property is at that number. Many people have to pay more then $27 per millage raised.

If a person has a job, they read about the recession. If you don't have a job, you are the recession. I know several people that have been forced into a fixed income because they have lost their jobs.They get unemployment, but that isn't the same as a steady pay check. It isn't only the Seniors that are concerned about rising taxes each year now.