Let's set the record straight on some things people are likely to hear about the "Mini-Bond" and its defeat. First, do not believe any spin that the weather kept the "yes" votes away. Bad weather kept "no" as well as "yes" votes away. For instance, when I saw the snow on Tuesday, I incorrectly figured that 50 school district employees would come to vote yes and the bond would pass 50 to 3, so I did not even get to vote "no." Fortunately, nothing gets a "no" vote out in Port like a bond, especially an ill-conceived one. Historically speaking, bonds do not do well in this town. So why did the board of education think that they could get the voters to approve another 7 million? Let's not forget that three of our current board members were on the school board when they tried to foist the $91 million bond that went down to defeat. With debt service in the proposed budget already at $2,752,285, did we really need any more? Don't they ever learn from their mistakes?
Also, do not believe that we are in an emergency situation, because this could have been budgeted for over a period of three years starting with the 2003-2004 school year budget. Instead, valuable time was wasted putting a bond up for vote. Even if approved, once you factor in getting New York State approval process associated with bonded projects and putting the jobs out for bid, an additional 2 to 2 1/2 years would transpire to do the job. So a bond hardly addresses the situation with immediacy. A more practical solution at this juncture would be to use the contingency reserve that our school district maintains to get the most urgent work started immediately and budget the remainder over the next two upcoming budgets. The contingency reserve by definition is to be used for unexpected expenses that have not been budgeted. Of course, it is hard to believe that such a situation of neglect was unexpected. At any rate, according to the district's financial statement, the undesignated fund balance (the reserve) stood at $1,704,364 last September. That's a lot of roof work.
The real reason for the bond was that it allows the board of education to skirt around the issue of fiscal responsibility. If $6 to $7 million of bond money is approved, the "gravy train" also known as the $103.9 million school budget will not have to slow down.