Attached is a letter I received related to education expenses in my home town of New Castle, New York. I will withhold my comments, of which I have many, except to say that this is a profession in which you work 38 weeks a year (rather than 48 like the rest of us), your employment is virtually guaranteed no matter your performance, and to match the retirement pay of these people you would have to have put over $3.5 million in your 401k, a figure none of us will even approach by half. Below is the letter:
Dear New Castle resident —
In his inaugural remarks, Gov. Cuomo described how residents are being imprisoned in their homes, which are losing value even as their tax bills keep climbing. “Nothing is going up in their lives,” he said. “Their income isn’t going up, their banking account isn’t going up, their savings aren’t going up. They can’t afford the never-ending increases in the state of New York, and this state has no future if it is going to be the tax capital of the nation.”
No question, our community, along with the state, faces a financial crisis. As members of New Castle Citizens for Responsible Education, we favor top education for our children; we applaud the excellent work of teachers. But given the crisis and its far-reaching consequences, all constituencies – taxpayers, teachers, administrators and other school personnel – need to find tax-cutting solutions … and stand up to the unions.
1) Consider the current preview budget for 2011-12, presented by the School Board on November 16:
This is a 10%+ tax increase and a 6.6% budget increase over the current year, and 96% of the total increase goes directly to salaries and benefits, including pensions, NOT to school programs.
2) Consider the escalation of union-negotiated teacher salaries: For the current school year, the average teacher salary is $111,000, with 75% of the teachers getting a minimum 7% raise each year in the current four-year contract!
3) Consider teacher pensions, negotiated by the N.Y. state teachers union and made into law: A teacher making $140,000 at the time of retirement, after 30 years of service, is entitled to a guaranteed pension benefit of $84,000 per year. Yet, according to their contracts, teachers need to contribute 3% of their salaries to the pension fund, for only the first ten years of employment. After that no contributions. So that retiree has contributed less than $50,000 in total. Say that teacher lives for 30 years. You do the math for the pension benefit, assuming no cost-of-living increases… Or here’s the answer: $84,000 x 30 years = $2,520,000.
With these eye-openers, we hope you can attend the next school board meeting, focusing on the 2011-12 school budget. It will be held this Tuesday, January 11 at 8:15/Greeley High School in the Academic Commons. At this time the Board will discuss in detail the budget and give taxpayers a better idea of what can be expected. Our group’s goal is a 0% tax increase, or less.
To help familiarize yourself with the budget issues, please look at our website: http://newcastle-citizensforresponsibleeducation.org/ Also, our Top Ten List, attached below, gives facts every Chappaqua taxpayer should know.
Please send this email to your friends and neighbors, and urge them to continue to spread the word. All of us stakeholders in the community need to work together to come up with solutions to maintain excellence in education while keeping taxes down.
New Castle Citizens for Responsible Education