Yesterday an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers voted to increase their property taxes. Yesterday was the annual school budget vote. That’s the vote where our overpaid underworked educators tell us they just need a few more dollars added to their salaries for the children. Looking at the turnouts across the state most citizens figured it was only two percent and did not come out to vote.
Our local school board pulled out all the stops this year during its presentation which was repeated across the district. Our superintendent of schools who makes a mere quarter of a million a year in salary and $50,000 in benefits attended, but left the presentation to others on the board. The presentation designed for power point was printed into a handout so no one would miss a thing. The first portion was the doom and gloom about how bad thing could have been if they had not worked so hard on our behalf to keep the property tax increase under the 2 point something they were allowed. Then the slides went on to talk about how good the district is and how hard they worked. As a dramatic closing some members of the school board also told us how hard they too worked. The closing argument was by the resident lawyer on the board. Once they finished congratulating themselves for their hard work the floor was opened to questions.
One question asked was, why in their presentation they show a constant decrease in state aid in chart form and it does not reflect the four percent increase in state aid which is buried later in the report. This would then equal a six percent increase in spending from last year that they worked so hard for. The entire board seemed to be flummoxed by the question. One member started to say four percent isn’t really four, another wanted to know where we heard about the increase. Finally our superintendent saved them by agreeing that the graph used to convince voters of how hard they worked might have some slight errors but state aid has decreased over the years and this increase was not important.
Considering that our school has increased spending since 2001 over 86% with no appreciable increase in either student enrolment or academic standards it is disgraceful. Fifty one of the 669 districts in the state decided they needed more than the 2% increase and only 24 of them managed to fool 60% of the voters.
When you look at how much in property taxes people in the 50 states pay for comparably priced home the top five counties are in New York according to the Tax Foundation. Why would so many voters agree to raise their taxes? It all comes down to apathy and low voter turnout. When voters decide they have better things to do than get involved you get over taxed, regulated and treated like a slave rather than the master of the public servants.
Those that didn’t vote and even those that did will be surprised when they find their property taxes will still increase over the 2% promised through whatever means necessary since the pigs at the trough are never satisfied until the goose with the golden eggs is slaughtered.