Friday the Toledo Public School board decided to reduce their levy request - partly due to an 'unexpected' surplus of $11.22 million that was over $8 million more than they projected and partly due to resistance to their huge, permanent levy.
In their coverage on the issue, The Blade mentioned some of the discussion at the TPS Finance Committee meeting Friday morning:
Board member Bob Vasquez questioned during a finance committee meeting this morning whether a levy request that would leave the district with no breathing room was wise, or if it was better to keep a 6.9-mill request so that unforeseen circumstances wouldn’t force the district to come back to voters again, or return to the budget cuts of recent years.
“We are coming down to exactly what we feel we can manage with right now. No cushion. This provides no cushion,” Mr. Vasquez said. “I don‘t want to come back here and start cutting.”
Apparently, Vasquez thinks he needs your money more than you do. He wants a "cushion" for TPS to address "unforeseen" circumstances.
Well, so do I.
I'd love to have a cushion for unexpected circumstances - like a new roof for my garage or for when my dryer finally gives up the close (which it's close to doing). I'd love to have some breathing room for my expenses, but I can't go to my employer and just say 'I need more money' like the TPS board is doing.
Based upon increases I have no control over (gasoline prices, food prices, trash tax, other property taxes that a majority vote to take from me) along with a 25% reduction in the value of my home which reduces my overall wealth, I have significantly less money for my own costs. As a result, I'm cutting my spending.
So, Mr. Vasquez, why can't you and the other school board members do the same? Why do you think raising taxes on the poor and middle class is the only answer?
What makes you think that you don't have to behave like everyone else and cut spending?
You don't have to take it from the kids - you can do an across the board salary cut for your exempt employees. You could do a state performance audit. You could address your miserable audit (here, here and here) and maybe find savings along the way. You could tell all your employees that since their bosses (the taxpayers) aren't getting any increases in wages, they won't either.
What novel ideas!
The people cannot always pay for expanded government growth - there's just no money left, especially in a city that has over 8% unemployment and an untold number who are out of work but no longer counted in the statistics.
Since the 2007-08 school year, TPS has spent more per pupil than they took in. The costs per pupil have increased steadily from $11,979 in 2007-08 to $13,859 in 2010-11. That's a 16% increase - 5.3% each year ... during a recession, no less.
It's time TPS does a state performance audit and reduces costs - rather than tell us they need to keep growing and taking more from people who just don't have anything left.
The attitude of “I don‘t want to come back here and start cutting” just doesn't cut it anymore.