This Wednesday, May 20, the Scarborough Town Council will vote on approving the School budget for FY 2016. The proposed School budget now stands at a request of $39.1 million of taxpayer funding. That’s an increase of $3.0 million or 8.2% over the current year budget. If you think that’s too much, please invest 8 minutes right now – 4 minutes to finish reading this very short blog entry and 4 minutes to email the Town Council (simple steps included below).
Some key facts about the budget are included in the following sample email to Town Council members asking them to reduce the School budget:
Dear Members of the Town Council,
I am writing to urge you to make a significant reduction to the School budget as it is being proposed at the Council meeting on Wednesday, May 20.
The amount of the proposed School budget to be funded by taxpayers is increasing by $3.0 million or 8.2% over the current year budget. This increase is not consistent with two of the Council’s stated budget goals of “recognizing fiscal constraints” and “maintaining a stable tax rate.”
Over the past five years, the Schools’ net taxpayer-funded budget has increased by $8.1 million or 28.8%. Very few Scarborough residents – including seniors on fixed incomes and families with children – have seen their disposable income increase at anywhere near that rate. Simply put, many Scarborough residents cannot afford a continuation of School budgets rising at a rate that far exceeds inflation and wage increases.
While I support a high quality education for our children, I believe the Town Council must strike a reasonable balance between the requests of the School Department and the affordability of those requests by the Town’s taxpayers. In recent years, taxpayer affordability has clearly received too little weight. Please exercise your responsibility to assure that the School budget is reduced to an affordable level before sending it to referendum.
Thank you for considering my opinion.
So that’s the first 4 minutes… The rest is easy! Four quick steps:
1. Cut and paste the draft email that appears above into a blank email.
2. Edit and personalize the draft email as much as you would like. Perhaps add a bit about how the tax increase will affect you personally. Or indicate what sort of increase you believe is reasonable.
3. Sign your name and address.
4. Address the email to email@example.com and press send.
It’s easy to make a difference!
The Town Council needs to hear from every concerned Scarborough taxpayer now. Please let them know your feelings on this important issue! You can bet the no-limits School supporters are making their views known. Also, please alert friends and neighbors to the coming vote and ask them to contact the Town Council members.
If you can, please consider attending the Town Council meeting this Wednesday, May 20, at 6pm at Town Hall.
A friendly wager
Editor’s Note: I had a bet about this blog with Mrs. Kincaid, our office cleaning lady. She bet me an Amato’s Italian that I couldn’t make it through an entire blog entry with no sarcasm, no bad jokes and no challenges to good taste. (Mrs. K: I believe I won the Italian. Salt and pepper, light oil, please.) To those of you have missed those stylistic features in this entry, please don’t fret – the next issue will be full of the usual hi-jinx. And we have some very interesting topics that you won’t want to miss. TTH
Here are my own words…reduce the school budget. it is not ready to go out to the voters. My taxes are sky and if you vote for this budget you have lost my vote in the next election because you have shown that you are not a fiscally responsible councilor and cannot be trusted to lookout for the citizens of Scarborough.
Thanks! Well said and right to the point. The Council vote today is not about seeing how the voters feel about the School budget. It’s about whether the Council members believe the School’s bottom line number makes sense for the Town of Scarborough. The Council is here to judge the appropriateness of the School budget — not merely “pass it on to the voters.” Thanks again for your comments.
I used your form and this is the response I got from Jean-Marie Caterina:
Hi, Catherine – I see you are using the email TThannah suggested. Please know the Finance Committee has worked long and hard to reduce the school budget to a point where it can go out to the voters. I plan to support the Finance Committee numbers on Wednesday and send it to the voters.
Just because I used the form email doesn’t mean I don’t agree with it. I don’t think the budget is even close to being ready to go out to the voters – especially considering affordability has been completely ignored. I plan to vote against it and hope the majority in town will too.
I understand, Catherine. I prefer to hear from folks in their own words rather than the cut and paste forms provided. It is much more meaningful when persons such as yourself tell me how the proposed numbers affect them and what they suggest as alternatives.
Thanks for being involved! JMC 🙂
Jean – Marie, Did you think that I thought you wouldn’t realize that I sent you a slightly altered form letter? Of course I knew you would recognize it for what it is. But thanks for pointing it out anyway. It was very productive of you to go there.
Perhaps next time you receive one of those you might want to consider that the person who sent it actually bothered to communicate with this Council in some form. Instead of diminishing their efforts – as paltry as they may seem in your eyes – perhaps just appreciate the input… Even if it’s repetitive.
I never said it was paltry. I just don’t think form emails are as effective . :). JMC
Wow, Catherine. Little did I know that our elected representatives had such discriminating standards when it comes to considering constituent feedback. Perhaps next they’ll be requiring a brief essay on WHY you voted against the School budget in order for your vote to be recorded. (And spelling WILL count!) This is really an outrageous attitude. Thanks for sharing this!
No problem. The attitude is astounding. How about this – why don’t we all send the council the ultimate “form letter?” – Identical expressions of the same opinion from a large group of people: THE VOTE. Of course, with the council even something as inconvenient as a town wide vote by their constituents has not always been known to change their course….
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for your comment. I think we can all understand how it is very tempting for the Town Council to defer to the referendum on the School budget question. But that doesn’t excuse them from the responsibility of setting the School budget at the level that reasonably balances School requests and taxpayer affordability. (And it’s curious that most of the Councilors seem to have no appetite at all for gauging “the will of the people” with respect to the laptop computers issue — even in a non-binding referendum question.)
Thank you for writing this. I’ve been sitting at my table trying to write something very similar to that; relevant points you and I and others have been making during public comment periods over the past two months. The town Council is responsible for representing all of the taxpayers and not just the school department.