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.