Monday, March 10, 2008

Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District Parties Like It’s 1984

This past week, at a special action meeting to review the “tentative” 2008-2009 school budget, our Matawan-Aberdeen School Board of Education hosted a Theater of the Absurd. After primping themselves for Huskievision, the district-financed television station, and sipping from bottled water, they publicly bemoaned that the state had cruelly limited their ability to tax and pillage the locals. Even worse, the state had allocated money for tax relief, money that could have spent by the schools. Oh, the humanity!

The board then engaged in a bit of Orwellian doublespeak should anyone try to quote them. Barbato asked if the board could “technically” do anything to grab the tax relief money for themselves. Donaghue asked if they could get a “waiver” to raise taxes even higher.

Again and again, they thanked the administration for presenting a school budget that raises taxes and spending to the absolute legal limit. In fact, Dr. O’Malley presented the budget in this fashion – The law forbids us from raising the tax levy any higher than $44,326,599 so that’s the number we’ll be using. The overall proposed budget is $63,356,016.

Then the conversation turned to how they could market their tax and spend scheme. According to Aitken, any rejection of the bloated school budget would put our children “at risk”. The school board ultimately borrowed bankrupt Foxton’s slogan – “2%”. Even though the board is raising taxes by the legal maximum of 4%, the net rise is only 2% if you include the state-sponsored tax relief money they’ll also be taking. By mindlessly repeating the “2%” mantra, they hope the voters will forget that the confiscated tax-relief funds were ever meant for the taxpayer’s benefit.

To make this Orwellian production complete, Zavorskas assumed the role of thought police. She asked if the PowerPoint slide showing prior budget increases could be “clarified” for the 2003-2004 school year when the budget rose an eye-popping 15%, the same year Zavorskas was school board president.

As much as I enjoy theater, it’s time to give these charlatans the hook. Here are the simple facts and you can judge for yourself. Putting aside certain exclusions, the state has restricted school tax increases and school spending increases to 4%. At the same time, state funding has increased 10%. However, of that 10% increase, 2.89% (same as the inflation rate) goes to school spending and the remaining 7.11% goes to property tax relief.

It works as follows: Let’s say you pay $100 in school taxes. The district can (and will) raise your taxes to $104. However, the state has provided $2 in property tax relief. So, your final tax bill is only $102. The school board, therefore, claims they’re only raising taxes 2% and discounting the fact they’ve taken your tax relief money as well. Meanwhile, the board gets to congratulate themselves for “fiscal restraint” when all they’ve done is held spending to the legal limit.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about the school board taking a “zero-based cost approach”, that the highest taxed school district in the county had no choice but to raise spending and taxes to the legal limit, and that rejecting the budget will put our children “at risk”.

After the citizenry rejects the school board’s spending plans for the 7th consecutive year, the district will once again circumvent the voters’ wishes and negotiate spending proposals with the municipalities.

It’s too late to run any reform candidates this year but mark my words – 2009 is the year we begin throwing the bums out.
>>> Read more!


Anonymous said...

Zavorskas, Barbato, Rubino and all the rest of them must be kicking themselves, as their pet projects and ability to give away jobs, to have many be allegiant and beholding to them ,is all but gone due to cutbacks by the state. Now we get this genius O'Malley to pat himself on the back on his first full day, OOPS, I forgot he doesn't work full days yet due to the contract yet to take affect.

Much like Governor Corzine and his toll hike scheme, which is dead in the water due to the simple fact that leadership should not go to the people for money without getting their own house in order first. The Trenton machine is choking us !

So no matter what O'Connell and the rest of them tell us, and unless they can show cutbacks and the ringing in of their own bloated budgets, hiding millions of dollars in every nook and cranny, I say and to quote Willy Wonka at the end of the movie, "you get nothing, good day sir" !

I thought I would throw in a little humor as we are about to get sold a bill of goods and see all of those idiotic signs on the side of the roads trying to make us feel bad that our votes and the no votes on the budget would somehow be against "the children". Vote for the children ! How about people voting for the taxpayers who cannot afford to live here anymore, those whom are being forced to leave the homes they love. In addition where is the sympathy for those of us who are without children in this district those who support our children and whom cannot use them as a tax deduction. Those are the ones I feel sorry for, every single day.

Do you think for one second that our school board leadership considers all of them in their formulas and budgetary processes?

Not for even one second!

That is why Rudy Guilliani said "the board of education should not be in construction and they should not be in education".

No truer words have ever been spoken.


Anonymous said...

Good post aberdeener.
We need more people at this budget meeting on March 19th to voice our displeasure. All the patting on the back to screw us makes me sick. What happened to the zero based approach we were promised. They went to the legal limit and worked this budget backwards. Wait until we hear how we got screwed by these people who are supposed to be representing us in negotiations with this union.

Where is the line item budget on the schools website as promised.
What is this 2% increase without giving the tax impact in dollars to our towns. O'Malleys trickery does't cut it. Corzine gives schools a little tax relief, they spend it all, and he cuts aid to municipal budgets. Taxpayer screwed again!

Don't take the attitude that they are going to do whatever they want anyway, even though this process is stacked against us. Fight this budget with the board and fight with the town council for more cuts to this bloated budget, even after its defeated again. After all they are our elected officals.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that in the sworn oath these supposed elected officials take as they assume office, there has to be a line or two about "service to the people" or "to the best of my ability".

Too often such phrases are ignored along with us the taxpayers the minute they finish counting the votes.

Will not even one of them stand up and tell us the truth, just one of them.

I am waiting, hoping that just one of them will let the people know what really goes on inside. We all hear the rumors of infighing and screaming in these executive sessions, just one of them should let all of us know the truth.

O'h wait I forgot words like "truth" are left out of the oath.

Why do you think our students no longer learn about the boston Tea Party.? Taxation without representation is the norm and too often accepted by the rest of us.

We deserve what we get. We too often fail ourselves.

Anonymous said...

It is refrehing to read responses on a subject that does not include the name Norma Kauff.

As of late and deservedly so Norman Kauff has received so much attention on the ABERDEENER, all be it without any news of an indictment or listing of criminal charges attached to it, leaves my wife and I sad.

After a few days perhaps Norman Kauff will reappear and more examples of his greed will return.

Good Morning Norman, we know you read the ABERDEENER every day.

Jean and Robert from Freneau

Anonymous said...

This is the real problem in Matawan and Aberdeen. Its not the Municipal budget's, its the School District. Cut back on some of these principals and high paid jobs that there are multiple employees doing the same thing. It has to stop soon and the people need to give the Municipalities a break. If your going to start fighting budgets, fight the big one. The Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District. I don't know what Aberdeen's municipal budget is but Matawan is about 9 million and hurting big time. The school district is how much? Unreal!

Anonymous said...

The problem is all of them. They are in this together. The board puts a budget of 14-20 cents per $100 to the public for vote. The public votes overwhelming no to any increase, when in fact the town will only take off a few cents. So the public votes for no increase and still ends up with a huge one. How about giving the people what they want for a change.

Anonymous said...

For 2007 the Matawan and Aberdeen town councils put the pressure on to have $1.5 Million dollars cut from the budget. The inflated budget of course.

Why did they demand the cuts ? Because it was an election year. A big election year.

Now with the yet to be presented budget soon to of course be voted down by the over taxed residents of these towns, both of he town councils will go back to cutting a mere $250,000.00. This to keep their relatives and friends employed in the district and the teachers union happy. Do not the taxpayers desrve happiness ?

The joke is on us, and the joke continues. The joke starts in Trenton and goes all the way to Crest Way, Broad Street and Aberdeen Square.

We are not laughing. We're crying !

Aberdeener said...

You missed the punchline. The school district didn't cut spending in 2007. They just cut the tax revenue and then spent the money as if they had it anyways. That way they could cut taxes without cutting services. How do you like that for election year politics?

For next year, I suggest we ask all candidates to sign a pledge for a one-year tax and spending freeze. Additionally, we need to push the district to pursue non-tax revenue streams.

Anonymous said...


Candidates Night will be held on April 1, 2008 at Matawan Regional High School from 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm. This is an opportunity for members of the community to listen to the views and goals of the individuals running for a seat on the Board of Education, as we approach election day.

March 29, 2008 8:47 AM