Friday, November 9, 2007

Don't Forget the Thank-You Note, Joe

State Controller Thomas DiNapoli released a report stating that school taxes rose more than twice as fast as inflation from 2002 to this year.  According to Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Jay Gallagher, the report said:

. . . on average the tax levy in school budgets outside New York City went up between 7.6 percent and 8.1 percent between 2002 and 2005, 6.8 percent last year and 5.9 percent this year.
DiNapoli, of course, is Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle's old buddy from the State Assembly, elected by the Assembly over Governor Spitzer's objections.  Looks like Joe called in a favor.

Tremendously convenient timing for Monroe County Democrats that this report is issued the day after the election.   It's findings only emphasize the validity of Maggie Brooks's point that Monroe County's suburban school districts can afford to trim their budgets by 1-2%.  Which is all the Brooks budget plan requires them to do.

Instead, school districts will spend more money suing the county than the Brooks budget plan will cost them.

But people accustomed to the whole loaf think 98% of a loaf is starvation diet.


HandsomeSwede said...

I think you're right on with your FAIR analysis, but where is this 1%-2% figure coming from? I'd be interested to see the numbers.

Philbrick said...

Under the Brooks plan, school districts forgo about 50% of the sales tax revenue they've received.  But as a component of their revenue in its entirety, sales tax alone is a relatively small component. (The big component is the school property tax). 

So when you look at the total revenue figures for each school district, the effect of the Brooks plan on each is a reduction ranging from 1 to 2%, depending on the school district.

Rottenchester said...

Instead, school districts will spend more money suing the county than the Brooks budget plan will cost them.

So, your argument is that the Pittsford School District will spend $1 million this year, and $2 million the next, on legal fees? Unlikely.

Philbrick said...

Rottenchester -- good catch. Thank you. What we should have said was that the school districts in aggregate would spend more than any one of them is likely to lose in aid.

The districts are not suing individually, but rather are all joining in one suit. We can reasonably expect them to take it to the Court of Appeals if they were to lose in trial court and then on appeal. That's the basis of our thinking that the litigation easily could cost a couple of million.

What prompted us to make the observation in the first place is the more important point -- and we should have stated it this way directly -- that the school districts, publicly at least, are not even considering the subject of any belt tightening on their part to erase the 1-2% reduction they'll sustain under the Brooks plan.