Jun 21, 2013

Allentown Raises School Tax 38%

You won't read this headline in today's  Morning Call, it simply says that we are rehiring five gym teachers. My post yesterday concentrated of the consequences of living within our school budget. Although the post was concise, as per my style, I had done my homework. Conversations with Armstrong and Zimmerman revealed that they would not support any rehires, while we faced an 8.5% tax increase for the next four years. Last night the remainder of their peers voted to bring back the elementary level gym teachers. It is reasonable to expect even more rehires will occur when the State Budget reveals a few more dollars for Allentown. By not applying the found dollars to the general fund, the School Board is ensuring that the full tax increases will be levied. This approach in four years will yield an effective tax increase of 38%. The suburban school tax increase this year averaged 2.8%. Although yesterday I tried not to stake out a position on the rehiring, I can tell you that unabated tax increases will have dire consequences in the sought after middle class home market. While we are diverting close to a $Billion Dollars in state income taxes to gentrify Hamilton Street, we are squeezing the joy out of both our children and homeowners.

UPDATE: Rolf Oeler wonders in a comment if Scott Armstrong will be reelected.  On a Facebook page I visited today,  an administrator at a local charity called Armstrong a troll and useless.  A teacher from Dieruff called him a stupid ass.   I suspect that with the 8.5% tax increase, he will be reelected if he articulates his position to the taxpayers.  In a few years, when the increase reaches 38%,  his positions will be appreciated even more.  However, I doubt that he will tolerate the abuse for that long.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Last night's vote was a victory of emotion over logic and prudence. Some board members actually said what difference does it make if we spend the money to bring back the teachers now even if we have to lay-off teachers again next year.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

By the way,after last night's move, which I consider irresponsible, I can no longer support this budget and will vote No at next weeks meeting.

Anonymous said...

Armstrong and Zimmerman are the only ones on that board looking out for the taxpayers. The rest need to be removed by the voters.

Have any of the current school board candidates gone on the record at School Board meetings, or at least taken a public stance on the budget situation?

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to vote you out of office Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

i initially rejected comment @8:30 because I feel it's from the blog mentor/antagonist. however, i have found similar sentiment elsewhere, so i post the comment.

ironpigpen said...

I predict Armstrong will be stomped soundly by the Proletariat in the City Without (Spending?) Limits when he comes up again.

The teachers and their union OWN the heart strings and know how to tug on them to enormous effect, history has shown time and time again.

I understand children with signs play well for the media, or so says a certain email from someone who shall remain nameless here.

ROLF OELER

Anonymous said...

does anyone know the amount of earned EarnedIncomeTAX that has been diverted to Harrisburg, that would of to School District from wageearners in the N.I.Z. also the real taxes A.S.D. lost on Properties purchased by a.c.i.d.a. in the n.i.z.

Anonymous said...

Everyone,
Listen if you have responsibities,pride,and Hope! I'm proud to be a part of the Allentown School system. I pay taxes, listen with reason,mull over thoughts and compromise. I am a Republican too! Republican aren't monolithic! We all think....differently! I grew up during the Civil Rights struggle! Children deserve better! Children deserve more! Perhaps it is "kicking the can" for a season. I'mggrateful to that my job has some value. Some merit!
Intelligent people will note: i (we) don't teach places!
Fred Montgomery- Proud Teacher of Allentown!

Anonymous said...

First off, in context, it's "ensure" not "insure."

Second, the School Board was equally irresponsible for not increasing property taxes for a series of years, relying on rainy day funds to cover the balance.

You have to admit that there is a certain level of need in education. We will not hire teachers at $10,000 a year with no benefits. We also have a growing population. Factoring inflation into the mix, plus general and long-term repairs and construction, anybody who assumes you can keep spending in 1996 dollars is just foolish. Costs of everything increase, why would we expect that school costs wouldn't?

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't smart ways to find savings, particularly in administrative costs. But the state is ultimately responsible for reforming our tax system, consolidating school districts (thereby reducing administrative costs), and moving away from a property tax system and toward a per capita tax.

Scott Armstrong, unfortunately, just blames Democrats (who have never controlled both chambers of the state legislature), and does more to antagonize people than to propose reasonable solutions. I suspect he will lose reelection.

Anonymous said...

Where have all the School taxes we Allentown residents have payed gone too over the past several decades??. These problems seem to be a never ending. Always "more money" to fix the problem, and it never works.
We all know what organization is responsible for the biggest problem, so I won't spell it out here.
Enough is enough!! fix the "root" problem first!!....PJF

michael molovinsky said...

@2:49, allentown's school millage has consistently been higher than any surrounding district. armstrong wasn't opposed to raising the taxes, he just thought the burden should be shared; in that context, he opposed bringing back the laid off teachers. the school population has actually decreased. as for reforming the school revenue formula, property taxes vs. capital, or something else, that discussion has been fruitless for decades; especially now with such a low income demographic.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that private schools can educate children at a much lower cost per student. The bloat that ASD carried for so many years should have been cut years ago.

Instead we heard how we needed smaller class sizes, and other reasons to increase the number of teachers and the bureaucracy that comes with that. The state enabled the expansion with unsustainable funding levels beyond what the community could afford, and that all but guaranteed catastrophe.

Blame whatever party you want for not fixing it, but the reality is that inflated teacher salaries and pensions have sucked the money out of our classrooms.

Anonymous said...

2:49 -

You are correct, the republicans currently control both houses of the legislature and the Governor's office. But while a majority of republicans might be willing to take on the teachers union, a small but significant enough number (particularly from the Philly suburbs) will not.

More importantly, NO DEMOCRATS are willing to stand up to the unions. So I would recommend that next time you're in the voting booth voting for your state rep or senator, you should cast your vote for the candidate who is willing to stand up for the kids and against the unions.

What political party they belong to is simply not relevant.

Anonymous said...

Fred,

The financial crisis is a real tragedy for the district, the students, and the teachers. My heart goes out to those who are losing their jobs in these tough economic times. Clearly the quality of the district will be negatively affected.That said many jobs could have been saved if the teacher's union had agreed to extend the pay freeze. They refused. The same thing is happening in Harrisburg on a larger scale where the teacher's union is against any change in the pension system that would allow more money to be directed to the classrooms. The coup de grace was when the local teacher's union opposed the governor's plan to privatize the state stores even though the ASD stood to gain 17 million dollars. That was revealing has it was stunning.



Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

By the way, I don't cast my votes with an eye on how it will effect my re-election chances.

Scott Armstrong

Guy Williams said...

We seem to forget how Rendell when first elected Mayor of Philly stood up to the unions.Philly was on the verge of bankruptcy and he forced them to go along with his plan.The union leadership hated him at first.Lots of threats but no strikes.First, Structual changes to the cities budget,pay freezes,and benefit cuts for all city workers and contractors.2nd, plan to revitalize downtown which produced jobs,jobs, jobs.So in stead of sittin around the union halls came The Kimmell Center for the Arts,Lincoln Field,Citizens Park,Perlman Cancer center,New civic center,Delaware Ave Riverfront and countless private development.Bottom line is he had the guts to stand up to the unions which was warrented at the time and the unions wound up lovin him.For many years I was a rank and file member of the local CWA.I know how the union leadership operates and didnt always agree but wasnt gonna quit my job because sometimes there like a screamin kid crying for candy in a grocery store checkout line.Give in and your sunk.Said many times the current crop of PA pols are intimidated by the unions because the pols dont wanna cut back on their own benefits and pensions.I have disagreed with Scott on many issues and hate his partisanship but agree with him on the need to reform teacher benefits and pensions.Salaries are a different story.And yes I would vote for his reelection.

Anonymous said...

Scott,
Teachers are not to blame! Most have dedicated their lives to public service. I've come to know what hard work is about. Dedication,commitment and solutions to problems when it comes to the dynamics of public education. I'm a care taker (like many) that was thrown under the Greyhound! I've been taught the value of independence, respect, patience, and solutions to
problems. Ronald W. Reagan would possibly say: "Well, there you go again! " The burden shouldn't be placed on the backs of children. Children deserve.......the Best! They are our greatest asset! Let's continue our investment in them! Let's tear down these wall of hatred, jealousy, spite, and incontentment.
"DO IT BECAUSE IT'S RIGHT!!"
FRED.......

Anonymous said...

Fred,

I never said teachers are to blame, I did and do blame the teacher's union for being part of the problem. The other guilty party is our feckless and greedy politicians.
These two parties are destroying public education in Allentown. Excellent and dedicated teachers such as yourself are being lost to the district and the students we serve. That is a tragedy.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

the following comment, from anonymous,was submitted this morning to a post entitled The School Dilemma from April 22.


Michael, fluff abounds in the district--dual enrollment figures where asd teachers are relegated to sitting in the back of the room as babysitters--top heavy central admin. and building admin., public relations person and their clerical staff, more controlled spending in jointure with city spending for consumables, professional dev. is being done by intermediate unit and their advanced college courses. block system in scheduling not effective, restorative practice training and materials not important at this time, paper waste, busing idling time eating up monies, our teachers are being used in hallways as bathroom monitors rather than teaching, duplication of psat testing, birney crum issues, just to name a few. if teachers are asked to freeze their salaries or to take a reduction-then it should be across the board. the state reimburses the district 50% of their contribution to pension and the pension reform proposed by present gov. will increase the debt by 48 billion dollars--yes, I said billion, privatization of the custodial services, frivolous spending with central admin. credit card that is asked about and never answered, instruction and curriculum supervisors just monitoring with a clip board and walking around the buildings, high tech equipment not being used, overlapping of job time for some holding two positions, the new turf at birney crum, teachers don't even have enough desks for their classes or books-ap physics teacher has one book-only one book for the entire class, directors of nothing in central admin., waste in the cafeteria, conference expense at this time is frivolous, and that is just to name a few. monies that can not be explained with clarity to board members, we are a free and public institution, k to 12--at this time dual enrollment is not appropriate when same academic needs can be met in ap classes, schools for the most part don't even accept the college credits that the students are provided with during the school day.

ironpigpen said...

QUESTION : "If I am NOT a property owner in Allentown, WHY would I care if property taxes go up a total of 38% in the next four years?"

For the record, I am not a property owner.

Furthermore, I am thoroughly sick and tired of getting beat up by Democrats.

So, I say, "Let the fools raise taxes as much as they want."

ROLF OELER

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the current state tax impact from the NIZ is on the ASD. But, when the NIZ starts operating the revenue to ASD and the City will be significant.

In the period beginning 2015 the real estate tax benefit to ASD is going to more than offset the loses in 2013=2014.

The NIZ should publish these figures.