Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Wednesday's Meeting

The Utica Observer-Dispatch had an article about last night's Rome School Board meeting. The headline mentioned the tax hike, the sub-head pointed out the $1.2 million deficit that remains. I find it hard to quote the article because it is all quite good. From what I've heard in the past, the meeting, while sparsely populated, was better attended than in the past. I suggest you get the OD and read the whole story.

To avoid reprinting the entire article, I have some notable quotes:

The Rome Board of Education still doesn't know how it's going to balance its
2005-2006 budget, but Board President Suzanne Carvelli promised Wednesday that
it won't do it by springing an August surprise on district taxpayers like it did
last year.

"We will not go back this year and add (the budget difference) on the tax
rolls," she said.

From residents at the meeting:

"Everyone should contribute 5 to 10 percent (of their salary) just for one
year, from the top down," Rocco Aiello of Clinton Street said.

A retiree of Rome Manufacturing, he said he and his wife still work
part time to pay their bills, but between them they don't make as much as a
starting teacher.

Edward Hildenbrandt of Schuyler Street also said something has to be
done about salaries and benefits, which make up 70 percent of the budget. "There
has to be some give and take (in contract negotiations)," he said, particularly
in employee health benefits.

"The day of the $5 (prescription) co-pay is gone," he said. "Ask your
neighbor." Teachers currently pay a $5 co-pay on generic prescriptions.

Kathleen Murphy of Franklin Street said, "Cutting sports ... is a step
in the right direction." She said Rome has a sports program comparable to what a
college offers.

Any reasonable person, I think, can see these remarks as a call to keep school budgets in line with the personal budgets of those struggling in the Rome district. For anyone in the city who makes less than $15 an hour, school tax is a regressive tax paid by the poor who happen to own houses to pay for superintendents and administrators whose pay dwarfs that of most residents. I hope Superintendent Thomas Gallagher will justify his salary by closing this $1.2 million budget gap. Otherwise, the city may have to vote no on the budget.

There's a formal budget meeting on May 4th. However, I do not know if it's open to the public.


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