>Some good questions here. And, BBWOOL’s defense of the budget doesn’t wash. For example, there is a huge difference between buying ONE computer for your child and buying 100 for a school! Steep educational discounts are available. I went to the Apple web site and within a minute was able to identify an “educational price” on ONE Apple iMac 17″ 2GHz model with the Intel chip capable of running Windows for less than $1,100. A quantity of 100 would surely be priced well below that. I have politely challenged some BOE members directly and I am continually unimpressed with their answers and their tendancy to blame Trenton. The truth is that Ridgewood’s BOE members are are not qualified for the task at hand. They are “administrators”, at best, not thoughtful “problem solvers.” Unfortunately, those residents who ARE qualified, are either too busy earning a living for their families or realize the futility of the job, without wholesale turnover of the board with like-minded professionals, willing to make difficult decisions.
As an example, the BOE rationalizes its decisions on a relative basis with various municipalities across NJ. This may or may not be appropriate. While it provides some context, there are too many variables that make the comparisons meaningless. If Ridgewood wants to compare itself to Paramus…God help us.
Somehow, the BOE needs to be held more financially accountable. Why not set our own standard for performance and require the BOE to meet that standard? Perhaps the BOE should evaluate where it may not be spending money efficiently, before they resort to raising taxes. I have never heard a BOE member talk about holding taxes firm or, God forbid, reducing them. No, they assume (incorrectly) they have a license to raise taxes every year because Trenton permits it. Never mind that the increases are far in excess of ANY cost of living or inflation increases in the last 10 years. How about intoducing a measure of “pay-go.
“Part of the problem is definitely the teachers’ union. I support paying our teachers fairly. But the truth is that policies like tenure have resulted in a situation where teachers are guaranteed better total compensation (including benefits) for the hours they work than their neighbors in the private sector. I think a bigger problem is simply a lack of accountability, responsibility and fiscal discipline. I am not advocating that we skimp on our children’s education. I am simply suggesting that we should ensure that we are making every penny count in every area of our budget BEFORE the BOE votes to raise our taxes. If they can demonstrate that they have done that every year, and there is no other alternative, then by all means…raise our taxes. Otherwise, I would like to see our BOE set a goal to HOLD, if not REDUCE taxes every year. Let that be the bar against which the BOE is measured. They should stop patting themselves on the back for “voting to raise taxes at the second lowest rate in years.” PLEEEEAAASE.