Strike 3!

Tonight for a third time, City Council was faced with a resolution to approve a $900K increase to the schools’ 2012 budget. The administration appropriated this additional money PRIOR to receiving legal approval by council, some 9 months after council first declined a similar request.

Though the mayor closed public comment on the agenda item, I did make the following statement during the public forum portion of the meeting:

During the March 26th meeting, Mr. Watson told council that the meeting to discuss the high school mortgage payments between himself, the mayor, Mr. Bailey and Mr. Fillauer had resulted in the schools explicitly agreeing to resume payments in full as before and to pay their back-payments in full.

I understand that as of today, the schools have yet to turn over their past due high school mortgage payment which totals somewhere near $700K. I also understand that a final agreement has not been reached because they are, in fact, contesting paying the full amount as previously agreed upon and mandated by the voters in the 2004 referendum.

I don’t know if Mr. Watson misspoke or if Mr. Bailey and Mr. Fillauer misspoke but what I do know is this – the voters did not misspeak in the 2004 referendum. It was and is very clear that the bill of goods we were sold, that the intent of the voters was to pay for the high school debt with the increased sales tax revenue… a debt that I remind you has now jumped from $58MIL to over $66MIL.

There should be no deliberations at this point. There’s nothing to deliberate.  The school administration and BOE have slapped the taxpayers of this town in the face.  It has been almost a year since they hijacked the taxpayers’ money. Why aren’t you appealing to the courts or the state on our behalf? How much longer will you all allow them to hold our money for ransom?

Just as has happened in the last two meetings, Mayor Beehan and Mr. Watson urged council to “move forward” and vote in favor of the resolution. Council member Chuck Hope also chimed in in support of passing the resolution stating that the high school debt issue was separate. To date, none of the accountability questions I originally posed have been answered. No one can explain if what they did was legal. No one can explain why the schools aren’t reporting these capital leases to the state. No one can explain the duplicate entries in their budget. And no one can explain why they are refusing to pay their debt. I cannot understand how anyone could see approving their request as a move forward.  Thankfully, Ms. Smith, Ms. Garcia Garland and Mr. Hensley stood firm and for a third time, declined to approve their request. Ms. Miller was absent, so the measure failed.

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6 thoughts on “Strike 3!

  1. Until a formal agreement on the sales tax sharing for debt service has been formally approved by both the Board of Education and the City Council, there is no “explicit agreeing.” There can be no agreement until it’s presented in writing, and approved — by vote in a public meeting — by both bodies.

    Will it happen? Probably. Without formal action to make it legal? Absolutely not.

    1. A formal agreement was already in place. It’s called the 2004 referendum. It was good enough for you for over 5 years. Nothing changed. If I didn’t pay my taxes, you (a member of our government) would not hesitate to pursue me. Pay your bills. It’s the only honorable thing to do.

      1. Was there any “formal” agreement, or why not; or was it understood by passage of the referendum that the tax increase “would” be used to pay the project debt, and what is the agreement referred to as the “gentleman’s agreement and the hand-shake agreement”? What is the current status of any aggreement, and the current situation for resplving the problem?

      2. No other formal agreement exists that I know of besides the referendum. You will need to ask Ms. Agle to address the gentleman’s agreement/handshake. The current situation for resolving the problem occurred last night and that was to give the schools more money. Nothing further has been agreed upon and not contingencies were included in the resolution to provide them with the additional $250K. Council simply agreed to give it to them outright without conditions for future resolution.

    2. Why is there NOT a fomal agreement; and the tax vote passage seems to me to be the valid status of the SB/BOE paying on the debt using the tax increase as stated in/by the referendum…looking for your comment and defense for not being obedience to the “people’s voice” in passage of the tax increase for the school project.

      1. I believe that the referendum served as the ultimate formal agreement. I cannot accept the BOE argument that a gentlemen’s agreement or handshake trumps the expressed will of the people.

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