2010-06-03 / Letters to the Editor

Taxpayer warrants won’t hurt education

As a mother of two young school-aged children, I would like to reassure all parents that the recent warrants filed by two members of our Taxpayer’s Association of Jamestown do not propose nor suggest that recommended school budget cuts of $115,000 be taken from the children’s education or their activities.

It concerns me that our school superintendent, when asked to comment on proposed budget reductions, would jump to say “Reductions of this size would absolutely have a direct impact on the education services provided to students.”

It also concerns me that School Committee Chair Cathy Kaiser would say that “the $115,288 would necessitate direct reductions in the services provided to Jamestown schools.”

The Taxpayer’s Association of Jamestown is proposing a very small, overall 2.09 percent reduction to the total town/school budget for 2010/2011. We are asking for a $320,676 reduction to the town budget and a $115,288 reduction to the school budget. The $115,288 is less than a one percent reduction to the school budget.

Our request is reasonable and timely, as we are proposing total budget reductions of $435,964 to offset against a property tax increase as a result of the loss of motor vehicle excise tax reimbursements from the state. Unless the town trims the budget by this amount, it is expected that 17 cents per thousand will be added to the new property tax rate.

From our perspective, it stands to reason that if there are revenue shortfalls, spending needs to be cut – we are exercising prudent fiscal responsibility. Consequently, the easy answer can’t always be to pass the costs on to the taxpayers – especially in these trying economic times.

We are suggesting $115,000 in cuts from the school budget specifi cally because of higher-thanstatewide averages for healthcare costs, employee co-sharing and benefits. Healthcare will only continue to rise in the future – a more equitable cost-sharing arrangement with school employees is desperately needed now. We are not requesting drastic cuts to benefits or cost sharing; rather, some reasonable and incremental steps towards cost sharing. The collective bargaining agreement is not final, so therefore the responsible thing to do is to go back to the union and negotiate a more equitable cost-sharing arrangement before final terms are reached.

Likewise, there is room to improve costs while still creating quality benefits for the retirees. We have some creative ideas to better control fast-rising retiree health coverage costs, while still preserving benefits for the retirees, and we hope to present our ideas during the Financial Town Meeting on June 7.
Amy Gallagher
Member
Executive Committee
Taxpayer’s Association of
Jamestown

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