Thursday, March 28, 2013

You Really Don't know Where the Money is Going

You don't know where the money is going, you are a fool if you think you do.

Jim was not the sitting board member when Newport reneged on their deal.  Jody , Emily and Angie were the board members.  Emily could not get Newport to stick to their deal.  Newport has not been good neighbors in my opinion.    When you get an increased tax bill this summer keep that in mind.  I did not vote to increase your taxes.


Low turnout costs Croydon taxpayers.

High turnout at Tuesday’s town/school officer elections gave hope that perhaps school issues had triggered the attention of Croydon taxpayers.

Saturday’s school board meeting dashed these hopes.  Despite the high stakes of the warrant articles (over $2/$1,000 or 20%+ increase in the school tax rate), the meeting drew only 40 to 50 residents.

One of the most astonishing aspects of the meeting was the administration’s complete lack of preparation.  Article 3 requested ~$138k to pay for last year’s Newport tuition that was under-budgeted*.  One should expect voters to ask for the numbers behind this request – the administration had none.  At best, the front table ventured crude guesses as to the source of the disparity.

While the funding request may have been perfectly valid, the lack of even basic support was troubling.  Worse, a majority of voters passed this large warrant article without this information.

In Special Education, lack of transparency is the norm.  Accordingly, the board requested a 74% increase in Special Ed spending for 2013-2014.  Calls for openness and restraint were drowned out by veiled threats of horrific consequences should all spending not be approved at once.  Board chair Jody Underwood read an impassioned speech calling for a board member to be seated on the IEP committee to represent the taxpayers.

This is a great step forward, though it fails to provide transparency to the other two board members.  It is also inappropriate to phrase this idea as a request or a suggestion; this should be a demand.  The administration works for the board, a fact that seems to be routinely ignored.  It is past time to reestablish the board as the leader of the district, second only to the taxpayers.

Two large warrant articles passed with virtually no information available to the board or the public.  Votes of such cavalier ignorance are not characteristic of the people of Croydon; they arise from a self-interested minority willing to spend their neighbor’s money with reckless abandon.  Democracy works best when voting represents a cross section of the electorate.  Clearly this was not the case.

I personally have great faith in the people of Croydon.  History shows that at times of heightened public interest, fiscal restraint, public good, and self-determination dominate Croydon politics.  When the public becomes disengaged, irresponsible spending, cronyism, and subordination to special interests gain strength.

At Town Hall, the rubber stamp crowd won the day, and we can expect to pay a hefty price.  Families in Croydon will now pay hundreds of dollars more in property taxes with no discernible benefit.

*Amusingly, one of the usual suspects blamed me personally for this budget issue, even though I wasn’t on the board when Newport changed the tuition rates.

Jim Peschke

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