The real story behind the Johnstown school budget

I feel compelled to write about the Johnstown School District and the upcoming vote on the school budget. First, I want to take a look at the history of capital projects. Moving the district headquarters from Knox left a perfectly good building unused. The district spent millions on a new football field and shortly thereafter didn’t have a team. We paid more for a concession stand than most residents pay for a home. Many capital projects are ultimately unnecessary, and place an undue burden on taxpayers.

Capital projects always increase taxes, but when paid off, our taxes are not reduced. Instead, the school board finds another capital project that must be funded with another tax increase. Is anyone is keeping their eye on the ball?

Our school board comprised mostly of retired teachers and a superintendent with a prolific bias in favor of the teachers union. This is problematic, because the school board should represent the taxpayers and not the teachers union.

The last budget was voted down after it was portrayed as a 35 percent increase. However, it was actually a 50 percent increase (over two years) and the residents who paid attention were not fooled. The board now proposes a 42.6 percent increase spread over three years. Do not be fooled, vote no.

Facts are not portrayed accurately on the radio when callers voice their opinion. One caller cited a 50 percent tax increase for a town with a shortage in their fund balance. The district budget situation is completely different. New York State mandated the district to lower their excess fund balance, because it was over the maximum 6 percent threshold. Taxpayers were paying too much. The board elected to spend more money — instead.

The board incorporated the public library and raised their budget to $400,000. Now, taxpayers will incur pension costs when library employees retire because they are district positions. For many years the extra fund balance has been hidden by distributing it into other accounts. This is why there are so many accounts in the budget. There is plenty of fat that can be trimmed from the budget.

We need to demand an independent audit of the Johnstown School District budget, going back 20 years. A report indicating how prudent the taxpayer’s money is being spent is long over-due. A forensic analysis of the school district budget will be enlightening.

Vote No!

DAN ENGEL

Johnstown