JOCKEYING FOR POSITION
February 3, 2017
Based on viewing the town web site replay of the School Board meeting on February 1, 2017 it appears that “jockeying” was going on for our tax money that we don’t have to give. In a 6-2 vote, the School Board voted to urge the Town Council to put the new Elementary School part of the $33,000,000 bond proposal as the top priority for the referendum, and not wait to apply for state funding.
The absolutely amazing dialog that led up to this momentous decision revolved around stripping the Junior High proposal off the bond referendum to give the Elementary School the top billing and reducing the chances of the citizens going for the less expensive of two options, the Junior High repairs. What was even more stunning, and foreboding, was the nearly 40 minutes of discussions, by nearly all School Board members, talking about going for a new Junior High, 18 months down the road, instead of doing any repairs now. It was the classic smoke and mirrors “shell game” again. Are you kidding me?
All of a sudden, at the last minute, there is a change in direction. So if I am hearing this correctly, the School Board doesn’t want to hold off the referendum to try and get state aid for the elementary school, causing the taxpayers to bear the full burden. In addition, they want to take a shot, uncertain as that may be, to also build an even more expensive Junior High in the near future. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.
At the end of all this, as they were all ready to make a motion on this shell game, the air was figuratively sucked out of the room when our Finance Director stated that to substantially change the substance of the bond proposal, by removing one if its core elements, another public hearing would be required. Oops! There was dead silence and some attempt by a couple of board members to question the validity of that parliamentary faux pas. Apparently there is a “bond council” that would back up what the Finance Director stated. Well there was a “never mind” moment from the School Board to which they decided to just “suggest” to the Town Council that the split-off would be a nice idea and see what the Town Council might do. In this Super Bowl week, that is called a “political punt”.
Feels like the blindfolded leading the blindfolded trying to figure out how to spend money we taxpayers cannot afford. First it was one new school, now it is two. It is almost like there is a mood of “entitlement” with respect to our hard earned assets. The fact is we owe School Board nothing! They have no right to expect any help from the taxpayers of Brunswick without first seeking state aid first, for the elementary school, no matter how likely that may or may not be. Then, when and if that attempt is exhausted, it is the School Board’s obligation to seek other less costly alternatives. They think they have done that; they have not, since there are two other schools we already have that could be used. Only then, do they have the right to possibly put an option to a referendum to get, or not get, our approval to proceed with spending any more of our money. They already took $37,000,000 from us for this year’s school budget. Apparently they think we “owe” them even more. We don’t! And to add insult to injury, they are potentially eyeing more of our tax dollars for a second new school. That is absolutely beyond belief.
So now, this coming week apparently, it is up to the Town Council to decide whether to prematurely drop this jumbled “financial mess” on the taxpayers backs in a June referendum, hoping for apathy and confusion to prevail, or judiciously wait to see if we can get state funds, whatever the chances. As above, they will either pass on and agree with the “entitlement” psychology of the School Board, or act like responsible stewards of our financial resources and say no for now, until other options are pursued and exhausted and the true intentions of the School Board are sorted out. For the majority of residents in Brunswick, the second option is the only responsible one.
We will see how our Town Council chooses to govern.