Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vote on School Budget is June 7

With a referendum on the 2011-2012 school budget less than a week away, it’s
decision time for Westbrook voters on whether they will approve a 2.1 percent
budget increase over the 2010-2011 budget. Voting is Tuesday, June 7, with polls
open from 7a.m,-8 p.m. Even if the $30.7 million budget passes, massive cuts in
state and federal money to the district means six teachers and seven support
staffers will lose their jobs, to say nothing of the cuts in programs the
district will have to weather.
- John C.L. Morgan


James Tranchemontagne said...

I hope people vote no and send a message to this city that they can not raise taxes every time there is a shortage.

The truth is this city and school budget will take about 1.5 million of disposable income out of the community. This will effect local businesses that depend on Westbrook citizens spending money in Westbrook.

The 2 budgets put Westbrook's property tax even with Portland. This discourages businesses from opening/relocating to Westbrook. The City has failed to show fiscal responsibilities with our monies, thru law suits, misappropriations and a finance dept. that was given a poor rating when audited. The city needs to get it's house in order before they are trusted with more of our hard earned dollars.

The school board and Superintendent failed to go after collective bargaining and reduce wages across the board. In the private sector many of us haven't received raises or have taken pay reduction. They also failed to reduce programs that might not serve the city well. While no one to loss all sports Freshman sports would have made sense.

This budget fails to implement cost savings approaches to the administration side. I've yet to see anything come home from school printed on two sides.

Finally, at my son's kindergarten orientation, we were told to vote for the budget and to go to a forum to hear why. The city never held a two side forum where a counter argument was made. It is asking for our money, via taxes, the least the city could do is present both arguments.

Even today you can't easily find versions of the 2 budgets on-line. Only Superintendent Gousse's reasons for voting yes on the school's website. If these budgets are so good then why are they not in .pdf form on the home page of the city's website and school's website?

If you want your city to grow and be able to fund it's budget it is time to develop a pro business model that will attract businesses to Westbrook. Businesses that pay into the tax revenue and ultimately lower property taxes.

Liz Stamey said... amended eexpsummary 4.27.2011.pdf

If that link doesn't work (I had to type it in) the budget is linked on the Westbrook School Department's website. Click on "School Committee" under the Parent or Staff menu and you will find this summary budget, as well as a detailed budget, there.

I beg to differ with you on your argument that there was no "two-side forum," James. The public was offered plenty of opportunities to voice opinions about the school budget before it ever went to the city council.

I will be voting "yes" on June 7. The School Department has not asked for more tax revenue every time there was a shortage; in fact, a couple of years ago, they asked LESS, and last year, the increase was in the neighborhood of $6,000 - TOTAL. (I might have the years backward.) The reason for the increase this year is not that the schools want to spend *more* but that they have lost a substantial amount of revenue this year for a variety of reasons. The total budget they are asking for 2011-2012 is in fact considerably *less* than the current year. If you went to any of the public meetings about it you would know that. You would also have had the opportunity to offer up some innovative ideas for future cost-saving measures. In fact, you can still do so anytime you like by contacting Mr. Gousse, or your school committee representative, or by going to one of their meetings. Many, many people did this over the last few months, and are still discussing things that can be done in the future to ensure that we don't face this kind of budget "cliff" again.

Please stop misrepresenting the situation as the school department recklessly spending, James. They are not, and frankly, if there were a way to compensate the people who teach my kids MORE, I would do it, because it is the most valuable service for which I pay. Some of the kids who attend Westbrook schools will be the future leaders of Westbrook, in both government and business, and I believe that the citizenship will thank us for educating them well today. The children truly ARE the future, James, and as a successful businessman and consumer yourself, you surely know that you get what you pay for.