Politics is local and we can have the most impact on our school boards

Your superintendent is the highest paid, most powerful public official in the municipality. Do you know his name?

Elected board members, although well intentioned are easily led by their paid employees; teachers & administrators.

Do you know what they're all doing? Well here in New Jersey they represent at least 60% of your property tax bill and budgets grow at an astounding compound rate each year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Audit Report: a dose of reality an two misstatements

The big news was what is already known. Between state aid cuts and last April's budget failure, $4.2 million of surplus was removed from the budget. Not to be glib, but it was the slush fund I revealed and they denied for the past 2 years.

Operation wise nothing's really changed except the district is a little closer to living paycheck to paycheck...Well aren't we all. In actual dollars, the RTBOE still holds $1.1 million in unencumbered general funds as of June 2010 which is down from $2.9 million in June 2009. The $1.1 million cash reserve plus the float derived by making vendors wait a few extra days for payment seems to be working. Outstanding vendor payables as of June 2010 are $120,000 higher than the year before...it's like paying the electric bill on the due date rather than the day received. Welcome to the real world guys.

As for misstatements, the auditor claimed the district would be limited to 2% tax revenue increases and nothing is further from the truth. Governor Christie's 2% cap is on property taxes not revenue given to a school district. Confused? Here's how it works:

The municipality has a calendar fiscal year but the school FY is July through June. So the schools can ask for and receive a 2% tax hike in calendar year 2011 (July through December). Now anyone who pays property taxes knows you pay an equal amount for January through June but since it's a new calendar year, an equal amount is not a tax increase. So a 2%tax increase amounts to a 4% spending increase for schools...they've been playing that timing difference for years.

The second misstatement was more of a Verbist spin than Auditor mistake. Verbist really, really wants us to believe $200,000 of operating excess was not transfered to capital reserve upon passage of a June 16 2010 board resolution. Now think about that for a minute. Verbist wants us to believe the June 16 resolution was passed just in case there was a surplus on June 30 and further he expects us to believe he didn't have a handle on year end results a mere 10 days out. Either Verbist is incompetent or thinks we are.

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