May 2007

Thank You

This isn’t exactly a proper thank-you note, but it needs to be said publicly anyway.

Thank you, Trina.  You did today what almost no one else has done this election season, and I appreciate it.

This afternoon in the heat of the day, when the steady stream of early voters had slowed to its lowest ebb, Trina Baughn came to Candidates’ Island with a cooler full of cold drinks.  Let me tell you, it was a most welcome gift… all of us came with bottles of water (or root beer, for Charlie Hensley), but we were running on empty by that point.

Next came what I’ll remember even more: she had questions for each of us, pertaining to the various offices we seek.  Not fluff questions like "will you raise my taxes" or "do you support safe schools," but well thought-out, specific questions for which each candidate should have an answer.  And no, mine didn’t pertain to bus service.

Outside of media interviews or election forums, I haven’t heard a lot of that.  Going door-to-door, one lady did ask what my qualifications are, but that’s been the extent of it for me.  It was really nice to have someone put some thought into these questions and stand in the hot sun to hear the answers before she went inside to cast her vote.

The Q&A was, for me, even more refreshing than the cold drink.

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If you didn’t vote early (over 2,500 have, last I heard), Tuesday’s the real thing.  There’s an all-candidates election party at Inspiration Point (adjacent to Flatwater Grill), where everyone except Ellen Smith and Aaron Wells (both were invited but declined) are planning to attend and watch the results come in.  The event was the brainchild of Gene Caldwell, who pointed out that several of us share many of the same supporters, who would otherwise be driving around town from one event to another all evening.

This way, we can celebrate together.

Update

Today is the last day of early voting for the Oak Ridge municipal election; if you haven’t voted but plan to, today would be a good day. 
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The new education funding bill, accountability measures, and cigarette tax made their way through the committees yesterday, and may be voted up or down in the Senate today (the Tennessean has the details).  You can watch the session online beginning at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. Nashville time) if you wish.

I wish I could… but I need to be on the island for one more day (and no, I don’t have a cellular modem yet).
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Graduation is tonight: yesterday, the forecast showed a chance of thunderstorms this evening, but as of this morning, the storm chances have moved to Friday.  It’ll be another sunscreen day!

The real agenda?

Two letters to the editor in the Oak Ridger this morning (Trina Baughn, Lila Marathe) lambaste the school board for not reinstating buses, in spite of the City’s granting a portion of the funding increase requested by the school board.

Reinstatement of the buses was not in the budget approved and submitted to council; the increase was needed to avoid additional cuts in programs and services — not to restore anything previously reduced or eliminated. As it stands, an additional $140,000 will have to be cut from the schools’ budget in order to balance it, as is required by state law.

There is a good possibility of additional state funding, over and above the increase estimated in February. Should that come through, the schools budget will be adjusted accordingly. It’s possible that some things previously cut from the budget may be restored. However, that process will not begin until the Legislature takes action to increase education funding, and we receive notification of the expected amounts (along with the expected conditions, which must be met before any other needs are addressed).

I sincerely hope that we do have to revise the budget, and that we’re able to restore a number of things, including real-world base amounts for a number of recurring expenses like textbooks. That would move us away from such heavy use of the fund balance (which is nearly depleted now), and hopefully avoid the steep increases in new funding needed from the City as projected in this year’s budget discussions.

This is one of those times when it pays to pay attention, picking up on names that show up in various venues and linking them. Ms. Baughn spoke at the second reading of the City’s appropriations ordinance one week ago today, asking that City Council NOT raise taxes, that they deny the schools’ request. Ms. Marathe’s husband, Andy, did the same.

So, these ladies have asked that the City deny funding to the schools, yet they sharply criticize the loss of services that resulted from that same action by the City last year.

The truth of the matter lies in the last sentence of Baughn’s letter: it’s all about the election.

*   *   *

There’s an archive of positive letters here, though.

Alpha and Omega

The beginning and the end: that’s what this weekend feels like, to some extent.  It’s the end of the school year for three of my four (Delta has four more days of 6th grade to go), but Alpha starts her Calc III class at Pellissippi on Tuesday and her new job on Wednesday; Beta picks up her second part-time job soon, and Gamma will commence her summer babysitting job in another week or so… so the carefree days of summer are nearly gone just as they begin.

MathMan, Alpha’s constant companion, will be leaving for a research internship at Texas A&M in a couple of weeks.

Yesterday, we all (well, all minus Beta, who had to work) piled into the car and went to see Pirates III.  Since the air conditioner at our house has chosen this muggy holiday weekend to act up, sitting in cool comfort for a few hours was quite the treat.  Choosing between the pool and Spiderman III this afternoon could be a tough one.

At some point, we’ll need to fix the silly thing.  Last year when it went out, the company that looked it over said we just needed to buy a new HVAC system… a diagnosis that we weren’t really ready to accept on a 13-year old system.  So, we purchased some parts and HWTFM fixed it himself.  This year, it appears that the fan just isn’t turning sufficiently, so it may be as simple as needing a new belt or something.

There are so many things to be done, but today is family day.  I’m putting on some ribs to slow-cook for a few hours, so that come dinnertime, they’ll go on the grill and finish off tasty and tender.

I realize that there are many things yet to be done, but none more important than spending a little time with my husband and children today.

… and then un-evicted

Upon our eviction from the island yesterday ("our eviction" being candidates for office banned from campaigning at early voting by the mall manager), Council candidate Ray Evans got on the phone.  After speaking first with CORE Properties — the mall’s new development partner — then Steve Arnsdorff, the property owner, we learned that the "no soliciting" (as applied to political candidates at early voting) did not come from the mall owners.

Evidently,  someone complained, and the mall manager decided that we qualified as solicitors.  Then Arnsdorff put in a call to management, and we were welcomed back with a couple of easy conditions: the same number of signs for each candidate/issue, and that our personal vehicles and any trucks with signs have to be parked at least one row back, to allow closer parking for voters and shoppers.

We decided on one sign per grass island, so it doesn’t look so cluttered.

So, that’s where I spent my day today.  Turnout was steady, and the feedback from voters was good.  I met someone who reads and occasionally posts to the Oak Ridger forums; that was kind of neat.  He noted that some folks on there write some pretty nasty things about me, and I think he was a little surprised to find that I do not, in fact, have horns growing out of my head.  However, he left a nice note on yesterday’s post, which I appreciate.

I hope you come back often, Jake.  It was a pleasure meeting you as well.

I had the island to myself for a few hours this afternoon, and made excellent use of it.   If you live in Oak Ridge and haven’t yet voted, Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday next week are the last days of early voting… after that, it’s all or none on June 5.

End of a long week; it’s time to throw some beef on the grill and open a cold beverage.  It’s been productive though, and there’s a sense of accomplishment.

Evicted from the Island

Since early voting began nine days ago, the little grass island nearest the entrance to the mall where early voting is located has been manned by candidates — myself included. That island and the one across were covered in yard signs, for every candidate and measure on the ballot.

Yesterday afternoon, that came to a stop when a mall employee, accompanied by no fewer than four security guards, informed the three candidates present of the mall’s "no soliciting" policy: no greeting voters, no signs allowed.

it does seem peculiar to me that more than a week has passed with candidates and signs present every day (except Sunday).  Did they truly just notice that we were there, or was there a complaint generated that prompted our dismissal?

I hate to say it, but I’m kind of glad.  I’m sunburned already, and I’m not sure of the value of that activity — how many people go to vote early, not knowing for whom they plan to vote?  At the same time, if some are present but others conspicuously absent… it could make a difference.

I’m quite sure I can make more productive use of my time at less peril to my easily-burned skin.

The Nashville Wrap

The previous post (Liveblogging Senate Ed) ended rather abruptly for a reason… a 20-minute recess was called, to reconvene at 10:55.  However, it seems that the House Education Committee was due to meet at 11, and expected some of the administration officials from the Senate Ed meeting to be present at their meeting.

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh stormed into the Senate meeting room just at the end of the recess with some harsh words about folks thinking the Senate committee is more important than the House committee… once he got back to the House meeting room, he reportedly closed the meeting.

Senate Ed was recessed for an additional 30 minutes by the only member present — now-Independent Mike Williams.  At 11:30, Chairman Woodson recessed the meeting until 3:30 p.m.

So, I had a couple of hours to hang out and talk, trying to discern what’s likely to happen with BEP 2.0 and the cigarette tax.  There seems to be consensus among several legislators I trust that the education proposal will pass, but passage of the cigarette tax is much less certain… meaning that ongoing funding is much less certain.

At 1:30, the House Education and Finance Committees met in joint session to hear roughly the same presentation as the Senate committee heard in the morning.  Unlike the Senate session though, there were questions from several committee members about why income is not considered in the new fiscal capacity formula.

Comptroller John Morgan and UT Economist Bill Fox explained, multiple times, that the new measure of a county’s ability to fund education locally is derived only from the property tax base and sales volume — they’re only measuring the ability to raise local revenue, which is defined by tax base.  They aren’t measuring service needs (number of students, at-risk students, etc.) in the fiscal capacity formula; those things are accounted for in the components part of the BEP.

After three and a half years of studying this thing, I can tell you it’s brilliant in its simplicity.  Needs are addressed on the component side, where they should be; the fiscal capacity formula is simple and transparent, without any political shenanigans hidden in a formula too complex for most people to begin to comprehend.

Morgan pointed out repeatedly that regression formulas sometimes have odd consequences; in the current formula, as tax base increases, fiscal capacity decreases (meaning the county appears less able to pay, rather than more able).  It’s just completely backwards of what it should be.

Income is a measure of an individual’s ability to pay, but the formula is to measure a county’s ability to raise revenue.  Unless the Legislature is going to grant counties the ability to impose a county income tax (bad idea), personal income isn’t a measure of a local government’s ability to raise revenue.  It’s related, but not a good measure.

I don’t know why it had to be asked so many times, but it was.  It was a thoroughly long day.
*  *  *
Leaving the parking garage at the Sheraton, a blue SUV two cars ahead of me in the checkout line had an ACES bumper sticker just like mine — the one with the little red dinosaur, like the picture under my links that no longer goes anywhere.  I don’t know who it was, but I felt very excited to see the sticker there.

It’s amazing what four young parents can do.  Notice that we didn’t have a monster budget fight with the City this year?  I think they deserve some of the credit for that.

Liveblogging: Senate Education Committee

Senators on the Education Committee have filed in as the roll was called, joined by Sen. Randy McNally, Chairman of Finance, Ways, and Means, along with Sen. Jim Kyle, carrying the Governor’s bills on education.

Commissioners of Education and Finance are also present. The discussion today is about fiscal capacity, as well as proposed accountability measures.

Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz asks committee members to refer to a "Core Principles of the BEP" document, which the committee did not yet have. It was distributed. Sen. Kyle asks if the committee can go into recess for five minutes so that members may receive the amendment language.

Patrick Smith of the Governor’s office goes over the basics of the BEP — that is was implemented in response to the original Small Schools lawsuit. In order to provide equitable opportunities, the State provides dollars to local communities on the basis of their ability to raise local revenue. There costs assigned for all the components of education (books, teachers, etc.) and the costs of these components are reviewed annually, whether or not there are any structural changes to the formula.

Smith: we’ve been hampered in addressing changes over the past couple of years, because of the disagreements over how the money is divided. The core principles embodies in BEP 2.0 is that it is simple and understandable, without the underlying complexities. After this is implemented, we can then address what other components should be included or excluded.

Comptroller John Morgan and UT Economist Bill Fox are present, and concur with the premise in BEP 2.0 that 90% of local revenues for education are derived from local option sales taxes dedicated to education, and local property taxes dedicated to education. Other basic principles in BEP 2.0 is the elimination of the Cost Differential Factor (CDF), and bringing the state share of teacher salaries from 65% back up to 75%. Note: Eliminating the CDF takes money from Oak Ridge, but increasing the State’s share of teacher salaries offsets that loss.

Funding 100% of at-risk students (up from 35%) and a greater share of English Language Learners are also part of the proposal. Finally, the State would fund 100% of student enrollment growth — currently, that funding is based on the previous year’s enrollment, leaving local governments in areas with population growth to cover the entire cost of newly-enrolled students for one year.

Bill Fox, UT Ecomomist: What we’re trying to do is to measure the relative contribution that each county should make to the combined local share of the BEP. It does not measure the effort made by counties — just what is its capacity to other counties relative to tax revenue. It does not try to measure the service (or expenditure) needs of the various counties. The existing formula relies upon regression analysis, and thus lacks transparency to most people, and contains unexpected results (as is common in regression analysis). The regression equation makes it appear that the larger the property tax base, the less the ability to raise revenue. That makes no sense.

Also, the current TACIR formula does contain elements that measure service responsibilities, but the fiscal capacity formula should measure only ability to pay.

The ability of a county to generate tax revenues based on average effort, using tax rates and bases. It does not depend on the actual effort — so if you have a high tax rate to support education, you are not penalized. This also solves the problem of city districts vs. county districts, since the city property values are incorporated into the county’s property tax base.

Senator Burks expresses concern that income levels are not included in the new fiscal capacity measure, because the residents of the smallest, poorest rural counties are unable to pay higher taxes due to their lack of income.

Dr. Fox: We believe that ability to pay has been included, because the tax base is the measure of ability. Therefore, when residents of smaller counties go to larger areas to shop and contribute sales taxes to the larger county’s schools, then those dollars count toward the larger county’s fiscal capacity, therefore qualifying them for less state revenue and the smaller county for more.

Sen .Kyle: Another proposal unveiled this year was one of a statewide property tax; while not exactly the same as an income tax, property value does tend to track income levels.

Comptroller Morgan: Value of property in an area is strongly related to income in an area. Wealthier people tend to live in more expensive homes. It’s important for everyone to understand in a simpler way of looking at capacity is a change from where we have been. It does get to be a question of whether you think using property and sales are a fair way of allocating responsibility.

Local governments in total pay 50% of non-classroom components, and if the new method is adopted, will pay 25% of classroom components. Based on current practice, when you look at all contributions to local school systems, it’s about 60% from property taxes and 40% from sales taxes. Averaged statewide, local contributions consist of about $1 on the property tax rate, and a little more than a penny on the sales tax rate. Under BEP 2.0, every county is being asked to use their tax base in the same way. It treats everybody the same in terms of allocating their burden.

The BEP is really two things: how much are you going to pay, and what do you get to fund your education program?

Including income in the formula would benefit Pickett County, but would adversely affect Polk County — not generally thought of to be a wealthy county. Including income really would present a moving target, and the only way to include that would be to pick a number that you like. Under the BEP 2.0 approach, the state is relieving local governments of a substantial burden by raising the teacher salary component to 75%.

Mike Williams: What other methods were considered when the BEP was first implemented? Fox: Both were considered back when the BEP was originally implemented. The reason that the new fiscal capacity formula is better is that is does not mix the measures of service responsibility and fiscal capacity. Fiscal capacity should only measure the ability to raise revenue based on property values and sales volumes.

Sen. Tracy: hasn’t there been a provision added to help the very smallest counties that would see a zero increase? Patrick Smith: Yes, that’s the provision that no system will realize more than a 40% impact. Putting a ceiling on the change helps counties like yours and Sen. Burks’.

Dr. Fox: BEP 2.0 absolutely does not penalize those areas that contribute more than they are required to — it does not penalize additional local effort.

Sen. McNally: There are counties where property and sales tax are not really reflective of ability to pay, such as areas with retirees who tend to have higher property values but lower incomes. There are also areas with high property values, but the residents have relatively low incomes (note: Sevier County is one of those).

Comptroller Morgan: we’ve just passed out a document that shows, as a share of the statewide average, the numbers under some different scenarios. The results of introducing income into the formula shows that places with a lot of shopping capacity benefit, where areas more reliant on property taxes suffer. Because we don’t tax income, we don’t have a precise measure, and messes up the simplicity of the formula.

Chairman Woodson: Simplicity is a goal, and introducing income brings in a component that we cannot accurately measure.

Randy McNally: We do tax investment income through the Hall Income Tax, and we can measure that (and some flows back to local governments). But, there is a cost factor associated with living in different areas. We’re looking at adjusting state employee pay based on salary differences — for example, it cost more to hire a nurse in Davidson County, and hiring teachers with, for example, a degree in biology and teaching certification is more expensive in areas that compete with the Department of Energy and its contractors.

Comptroller Morgan: That’s something that ought to continue to be looked at, but salary differences are also part of the "need" side, not the "ability" side. They’re trying to draw a strong distinction between the fiscal capacity formula — the local match equation — and the need side, which constitutes the rest of the BEP.

Patrick Smith: Remember that raising the base teacher salary as well as the state share of teacher salaries, it really helps some of the rural systems in lessening the disparity in teacher salaries.

John Morgan: To the extent that our difficulty in accepting this lies with the differing impact of property and sales taxes impact people of differing incomes in a disparate fashion, that is a problem with our basic tax structure, and fixing that is not within the purview of the BEP formula.

Sen. Woodson: The State should not be expected to pick up the slack for communities that have chosen to provide economic incentives via tax abatements or payments in lieu of taxes.

Morgan: The property portion will take into account the properties held by industrial development boards, so the value of those properties will be included in the numbers — those districts will not gain additional state money because they’ve given abatements. Those numbers are not yet in, but they will be included in the final numbers. People in one county should not have to pay more just because people in another county chose to give a tax break for economic development.

Sen. Rusty Crowe: What about the counties where much of the land is owned by the Federal or State governments?

Morgan: No value is assigned to government-owned properties (or churches, etc.), because local governments have no control over that. They do have control over tax abatements granted by industrial development boards.

Sen. Woodson: Please explain the "circuit breaker" provision.

Morgan: The circuit breaker is a mechanism to ensure that any county whose fiscal capacity has shifted more than 40% will be limited to a 40% change.  It seems reasonable to us (the Comptroller’s office)  that the State should ensure that every county receive enough to ensure that they are able to meet the mandated salary increases.  This is a significant improvement, but is far from the extent of educational improvements needed in the state.

Sen. Woodson: We can move forward with this approach, or we can wait for the judicial hammer.

Patrick Smith: We have someting of a guideline through the decisions in the Small Schools lawsuits; this proposal goes a long way in addressing adequacy in a couple of ways — at risk, ELL, real-world salary levels.  It also lets us get away from the "dividing the pie" arguments and move toward higher standards and delivering the right instructional content.

Sen. Williams: This document shows that we are in a proactive state, as opposed to a band-aid measure.

Morgan: BEP 2.0 is an important reform, which puts us on our way to full implementation.

Feeding Frenzy

I got tagged yesterday in the "where to eat" thing, so in the interest of keeping harmony with the neighbors and all, here goes.

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Todd (Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
miss kendra (los angeles, california, u.s.a)
Jiggs Casey (Berkeley, CA, USA! USA! USA!)
Tits McGee (New England, USA)
Joe (NE Tennessee, USA)
10K Monkeys (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
Big Stupid Tommy (Athens, Tennessee, USA)
Newscoma (Weakley County, Tennessee, USA)
Russ McBee (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Atomictumor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA)

CitizenNetmom (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

Razzleberry Ice Cream (yeah, ice cream counts as a meal at this place)
The Flatwater Grill
Riverview Grill
Cap’n Tom’s BBQ
China Wok

Mrs. Eaves already listed two of my five favorites in her post, so I guess it’d be cheating to include Big Ed’s and Magic Wok (a.k.a. Miss Betty’s). But for the record, they are among my favorites.

Razzleberry Ice Cream Lab in Jackson Square should have been at the top of the list — every batch is made from scratch, and there’s no standard menu. It’s absolutely wonderful… and I’m not really a sweets person. Flatwater feels like fine dining, except there’s no sticker shock. The Riverview has a homey feel, but ribs and beer that make Friday worth living for. Cap’n Tom’s is some of the best BBQ to be found, and their homemade banana pudding is to die for! China Wok is an old favorite; reasonably priced, with food that will make me get up from the comfort of home and make a special trip when the craving calls.

3. Tag five others.

AC Kleinheider, Blue Collar Republican, Aunt B.,Katie Allison Granju, Anotherthing2

Liveblogging Council, May 21

Following the invocation and pledge, items from the City Clerk’s memorandum were added to the agenda.

Under recognition of visitors, Homer Fisher was introduced as Chairman of the Y-12 Community Relations Council. Fisher explained the nature of the organization, then presented a resolution on behalf of the organization which strongly endorses the Crestpointe proposal, and encourages eligible BWXT employees and all other eligible Oak Ridge voters to register a positive (YES) vote on June 5, 2007.

Jane Miller presented a recorded greeting from US Rep. Zach Wamp, congratulating Mayor David Bradshaw on a job well done at this, his final council meeting before the June 5 election.

A Secret City Festival resolution was approved.

Another resolution was approved stating appreciation for the gift of student art, which has been displayed throughout the Municipal Building throughout the year. If you haven’t seen this display, walk through City Hall and marvel at the talent displayed. Fine arts matter, just as physics, math, English, and history.

Three additional resolutions were added, one each commending Leonard Abbatiello, Lou Dunlap, and David Bradshaw for their service to City Council. All three have chosen not to run for re-election, and will be replaced following the June 5 election.

Jane jokes about making Abbatiello laugh during the meetings; I have a joke of my own for Tom Beehan: Kramer. Watch and see if he chuckles next time he looks at his laptop.

 

Lou notes that they’re leaving some challenges for the next Council, and praises staff members Jackie and Sandy.

Jane recounts learning how to be a Council member from David. Tom Beehan praises his leadership style. Andy Marathe notes that he got to know David Bradshaw because he (Andy) bought a desk upon his arrival in town six years ago, and was the only person in Tennessee without a truck. David delivered the desk to his house — that’s constituent service.

The consent agenda was approved, and Council moved on to the second reading of the appropriations ordinance — enacting a ten-cent property tax increase, with the additional revenue divided evenly between the City and the Schools. After being moved and seconded, the Mayor asked School Board Chair to present the most recent information about the potential change in State funding. Smith took the podium and reviewed the information presented at the School Board work session last Monday, but also that the Legislature has changed course several times since last week. The outcome is uncertain, particularly with Sen. Woodson’s bill to reduce the cigarette tax increase to 20 cents.

Abbatiello again asks for answers to the questions which were previously answered at the committee meeting in April.

The City Manager presented his list of City needs, adding $115k to street resurfacing, $50k for an additional police officer, $15k to restore mowing services, $35k for an additional facility monitor (parks & recreation at the Scarboro Center), $21k for an administrative assistant, $30k for library materials, $14k for two additional issues of the city newsletter, $16k for mowing and demolition in code enforcement, $24k to increase dental reimbursement to 80% of $1500, $24k for network upgrades, $6k for GIS enhancements, for a total of $350,000.

Abbatiello questions whether the "equitable" distribution is really equitable; his premise is that the percentage increase for the schools is larger than the percentage increase for municipal operations. However, the schools have more than twice as many employees, more buildings, and a larger overall budget — so therefore, the distribution is NOT equitable, but not in the direction that Abbatiello alleges.

Mosby says he’s less concerned with equitability than with meeting needs, although he has some questions about the distribution of dollars for City needs. O’Connor clarifies that those numbers were modified to fit in the amount available, but because they’re recurring dollars, they can be funded over several years (such as network upgrades).

Lou Dunlap clarified that she realized, when proposing the equally-divided increase, that is was not "equitable" according to Abbatiello’s definition, but that it came closer to meeting the schools’ request, while allowing some improvement to the City budget.

What is the grudge that Leonard bears against the school system? Why do we have to go through this every year?

Beehan notes that he wishes that budgeting was more of a science than it really is. We think there will be additional state funding, but we don’t know for certain, nor do we know how much.

Save me some of that Shiraz, Joel… I think I’m gonna need it.

Bradshaw notes that the "windfall" (additional State money) that some have alluded to is not actually a windfall at all, but the State beginning to catch up to what they should have been paying all along.

 

Smith notes the uncertainly associated with additional State funding, and that he fully expects any new revenue to have strings attached — mandates that we may not necessarily have in our present budget. The budget will be amended, and the amended budget will come back before Council (even though no additional City dollars are required).

Mosby asks if the school board can’t wait until the end of the year to amend the budget; Smith clarifies that the federal dollars trickle in through the year, and it happens almost every year. Funds cannot be expended until they are included within an approved (by the school board and the Council) budget..

Abbatiello moves to amend the motion to adopt a tax rate of $2.55 (the budget & finance committee recommendation). It dies for lack of a second.

Superintendent Tom Bailey addresses Council noting that the School Board, the City, and the City’s lobbyist have worked hard to get to this point with the change in State funding.

Citizen comments follow.

Abbatiello again moves to amend, but with a $2.62 tax rate, decreasing the schools allotment to 3 cents. Dies for lack of a second.

Abbatiello say’s we’re in debt up to our eyeballs, that we’re not doing capital projects because of our debt levels.

Shane Deichman: I respectfully disagree with Mr. Marathe; I’ve lived here seven months, everyone has welcomed me with open arms, and that includes Dr. Bailey and Chairman Smith who have answered every question I had.

Raj Jain: I also disagree with Mr. Marathe.

Martin McBride: Mr. Marathe and i agree on many things, but this is one item that we disagree on. One of the things that we must look at is performance, and if you look at our schools, their performance is stellar. Schools are not cheap — they cost money. Looking at the way the school board does its budgets, they do a remarkably good job of dealing with their issues and financial priorities. Please fund the full request.

THE VOTE: Carries 6-1, with Abbatiello voting no.

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