Remember that 2-year federal stimulus money that was supposed to put people to work? Well we used it that way last year and then the state decided to keep the second year of some of those stimulus funds ($2.4 million) to balance the state budget. That’s just one example of the challenges.
Speaking as one school board member, I cannot support implementing all of the drastic cuts contemplated in our school budget. Those cuts are well documented in the budget documents and I won’t go into those details in this post.
Our ability to deliver on our strategic plan, a plan strongly supported by this community, will be set back by many years, probably all the years today’s kindergarten students will be in school. We simply will not have the same public education system that attracts new businesses and promotes economic vitality in this community.
Even if ALL the cuts itemized by Superintendent Pam Moran are implemented, even that likely won’t be enough if we don’t find new revenues. This was my big take away from the latest school board budget work session last week.
I look forward to hearing what the public has to say and I hope the weather will permit us to hold the public hearing tomorrow night. I hope we will come together as a community and support a school budget that positions us to meet the needs of our children for their futures.
In an effort to get my head around the numbers, I have prepared the attached spreadsheet which evaluates (to the best of my ability with the data available), the impact of the different budget scenarios and what different property tax rate increases necessary to close the funding gap.
- http://www.wheeleronboard.com/docs/20100214-analysis-wheeler.pdf (Acrobat PDF); or
- http://www.wheeleronboard.com/docs/20100214-analysis-wheeler.xls (Excel spreadsheet)
If you download the Excel spreadsheet, you can even plug in your own home assessments from 2009 and 2010 to measure the personal impact of adjusting the tax rate.At this point in the process, I don’t like trying to address a budget challenge by manipulating the tax rate, but I think the public deserves some factual information about the different scenarios and how that might impact their personal pocketbooks. At this point, the burden has been put on local government and it has few revenue tools at its disposal. We all need to understand the cost-benefit of the status quo, the current tax rate, which in reality is a tax reduction.
I also know how much work has gone in to trimming our school operations, withholding raises, and implementing efficiencies over the past several years. Those that tell you we should just simply cut more from the school budget don’t know what they are talking about, don’t care about the impact, or both. We have an efficient and effective business here that is being asked to DO MORE for MORE children WITH MUCH LESS.
In the analysis I have provided, here is the bottom line for the median household (2009 sales price) in Albemarle.
- With the worst case state funding scenario (new reductions of $9 million), a property tax rate of 86.5 cents would fund Dr. Moran’s budget with only Tier 1 cuts implemented. That rate would increase ANNUAL tax payments by $272.08 for the median priced home when compared to 2009.
- In the best case state funding scenario, a property tax rate of 81.9 cents would balance the budget and increase ANNUAL tax payments by $146.19 for the median priced home when compared to 2009.
Report on the Comparative Revenue Capacity, Revenue Effort, and Fiscal Stress of Virginia's Counties and Cities 2006/2007 (most recent year available)
- Albemarle County in 2006-07 ranked 118th out of 134 localities in "revenue capacity" - with 134th being highest capacity
- Albemarle County in 2006-07 ranked 96th out of 134 localities in "revenue effort" - with 134th being lowest effort
- Albemarle County in 2006-07 ranked 123rd out of 134 localities in level of "fiscal stress" - with 134th being lowest stress