In my opinion a certain local blowhard (and regular contributor to the weekly Village Idiot) is a real horse’s ass! I can’t stand it. Just because ‘someone’ has pushed figures around on some company’s ledgers for long enough to retire with a ‘gold watch’ doesn’t make that ‘someone’ the be-all and end-all of anything accounting.
There is a difference between marketplace budgeting and Board of Education budgeting. Marketplace budgeting (as we have all seen with the most recent Wall Street stupidity) evolves as it wants to and the only restrictions are whatever the market will bear (or can be fooled into believing). Board of Education budgets must be self-contained each fiscal year.
Common businesses can run in the red, can extend expenses from one year into the next, can do just about anything they want to – as long as they can make a convincing argument that eventually they will be profitable, successful and in the black. Some companies run for years before reality ever catches up with them. Most businesses are governed only by how can I/we get ours. That can work for a while and has. But if enough businesses choose to run fast and loose (looking only to get ‘theirs’ at any cost) the house of cards will eventually collapse.
Boards of Education have to put forth an annual budget that is finite. The taxpayers know, going into any fiscal year, exactly how much the education system is going to cost them. They know how many mils their property ownership is going to cost them. They aren’t asked to give the BOE a credit card or blank check (By the way, the Woodstock Public Schools DO NOT use credit cards).
Now, on to the idiocy of the previously noted certain ‘someone’ whom I feel is a blowhard and horse’s ass…
• The timing of expenditures is not a spending free-for-all. It is a measured response to the expectation of higher costs for uncontrollable items such as heating oil, fuel, and utilities. In other words, such restraint would indicate the school administration is making sound fiscal decisions.
• Some contracts and services aren’t due until the end of the school year.
• Once it becomes clear to the school system will be able to fulfill their legal and financial obligations for the bulkier expenses, previously budgeted and approved items are then purchased. From the horse’s ass’ perspective (given his conspiratorial bent), I’m sure this is what he sees this as a frantic effort to spend money before the time runs out (the fiscal year end). However, most of us do the same thing. At the end of the month, I have maybe $500 dollars that I haven’t spent. Same thing the following month. So, do I really have $1000 that I can do whatever I want with? NO. After not spending that $500 each month, I have to go down to the Town Hall and pay my taxes! So just because monies haven’t been spent at some particular date chosen, doesn’t mean they are monies that should be turned back to the town’s coffers (which by the way DO NOT get returned to the taxpayers it gets put into the savings account for the Town). The BOE isn’t allowed to ‘save’ up for stuff that will have to be purchased in the future but the town is allowed to do so.
• The horse’s ass reassures those of us who don’t-have-a-lot-of-experience-managing-multi-million-dollar-budgets that coming in at less the $100 difference between budgets and actual expenditures is “remarkable” reveals his absolute ignorance. The BOE is not allowed to spend more than their approved budget, period. With the rising costs of late it would be insane to think they would come in with any amount that would be a lot less than they had budgeted.
• Each year our budgets start off at zero. Each department in the education system builds their budgets from the bottom up. It has been and still is a zero budgeting process. I’m sure that the horse’s ass doesn’t believe that because he is sure he actually knows everything, but just because he disagrees with the answer doesn’t mean it is wrong.
• I’m not certain of the actual timeline associated with the State’s requirement for the retrofitting of the buses with crossing bars, but I do know it was well after the budget had taken nearly final form. Yes, it did come down before the voters approved the actual budget. The horse’s ass is upset because the district didn’t reduce the $21 per student for school supplies to $10.50 per student in order to accommodate this last minute decree from Hartford in this year’s budget. (By the way, most of our student pick-ups/drop-offs happen on the same side of the street so the crossing arms aren’t going to increase their safety for the most part… but it makes politicians feel like they’ve ‘done’ something productive.) So, we’ll get the crossing arm in the upcoming year. So, the horse’s ass doesn’t agree with the Superintendent’s decision of when to install the crossing arms.
• Anyone who wishes to ‘go through’ the check register is going to come up with more expenditures than are called for in the budget. Why? Because, the budgeted expenditures approved by the taxpayers do not include items like grants, programs and activities funded outside taxpayer revenues, all of which will show up in the check register. Is this something subversive? Is this a conspiracy to defraud the taxpayer? Nonsense! Read the rest of this entry »