New Hartford budget is approximately $3 million more than the 2008/2009 school budget and yet they tell us there is no tax increase. Hmmm... If no tax increase, where are they getting the extra $3 million dollars?
If we compare the revenues from the 2008-2009 budget to the 2009-2010 budget, it is quite easy to see where the bulk of the additional revenue is coming from (click on the graphic for larger print):
The Tax Levy line item is an educated guess (no pun intended) because there is no way the school can know now what they will receive in tax revenue until after any grievances or certioraris settlements are taken into account and the tax monies are received by the District.
However, the State Aid and BOCES Aid are actual numbers. Almost $2.5 million more aid will be received in 2009/2010 than the previous year. Ah, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 whereby the school will receive extra AID this year and in the 2010-2011 school year. After that, in the 2011/2012 school year, the aid will no longer be available. So with an increase in this year's budget and more than likely next year's budget, what will happen for the 2011-2012 school year when the extra aid is no longer available? How will the school make up the shortfall?
We can believe that once the stimulus money is no longer available the school will cut the extra spending, but that's not being realistic...when was the last time the school budget decreased?
We can be optimistic and talk about all the new commercial development that will take place between now and 2012 thus giving us extra property tax revenue. However, let's look at the PILOT given to a private developer whereby school, town and county tax revenue will be used to build the infrastructure in the New Hartford Business Park. Here is a copy of the PILOT letter sent to The Hartford for the 2008/2009 school year. A note at the bottom of the letter states:
Please forward a check payable to OCIDA in the amount of $24,535.37 to my attention in the Business Office of the New Hartford Central School District, 29 Oxford Road, New Hartford, NY 13413.The school is requesting that the check be made out to OCIDA because the tax revenue is being forwarded to OCIDA (Oneida County Industrial Development Agency). The school will not see a penny of tax revenue from this 'new development' for the next 15 years. How many other PILOTs will be approved in the same fashion where the school sees no extra tax revenue for 15 years as a result of the OCIDA new Uniform Tax Exemption Policy (more on that on a future blog). Here is a FOILed document listing the PILOT payments for New Hartford Central School from 2005 to 2008.
We can talk about all the new people moving into our area as a result of job growth in our area. But is that being realistic? Over the past several years, we have seen an exodus from our area leaving behind an aging population in the Town of New Hartford. A copy of the 1992 GEIS for the area to include Seneca Turnpike (NYS Rt 5) - Commercial Drive (NYS RT 5A) - Middlesettlement Road (NYS RT 5B CTY RT 30) stated back in 1992...the school enrollment was declining, we have an aging population and population in general was declining. It was felt that we needed to encourage development in this corridor of New Hartford in order to reverse the trend. Almost twenty (20) years later, we are still facing the same issues as evidenced by an Observer Dispatch article in 2007. How many new homes will we realistically see built in New Hartford in the next 2 or 3 years?
Here are some reports that we received through FOILs:
1. Cost of tuition to attend New Hartford Schools for those outside of the District.
The cost of tuition in accordance with the State Education formula (referred to as the Seneca Falls formula) is as follows:2. Twenty-one (21) students are known to attend the school district, however are not residents. Seven (7) at Myles, Seven (7) at Bradley and Seven (7) at Hughes. We would like to know how many of the 21 students are paying school tuition for the 2008-2009 school year.
Currently two (2) non resident students are paying tuition.3. We would like to know the actual cost to educate each student within the school district.
The most current cost according to the New York State School Report Card to educate each student within the school district is $8,258.Hmm...is this the cost we would get if we divided the budget by the number of students enrolled in the district?
Is a budget with a $3,000,000 spending increase and $0 tax rate increase a good thing or an attempt to fool you into believing the school is being fiscally responsible with your tax dollars?