Grand Island Resident Voter Education Public Meeting, 12-5-2011

To: GIS Superintendent Robert Christmann
From: Michael Madigan – Grand Island Parent and resident/TeaNewYork.Com
Subject:  Meeting Minutes – Grand Island Resident voter education Public Meeting with Superintendent of GIS Robert Christmann 05-December-2011
Date: 12-December-2011 (issued date)

1)    Superintendent Robert Christmann, Board President David Goris and Board Vice President Tak Nobumoto provided a presentation designed to answer Grand Island resident’s questions and concerns regarding the pending vote on 20th December, 2011.
a)    The purpose of their presentation and the associated question and answer session was to educate the voters so they were fully informed on the facts related to Proposition #1 and Proposition #2 prior to the December 20-2011 vote.

Proposition #1:
2)    The primary concern that was asked in different ways repeatedly was will Proposition #1 result in any levy on the property owners/ taxpayers.
a)    The response from Superintendent Christmann and the board was consistently: Proposition #1 will have no levy (tax) of any form if this proposition is passed.
b)    Considerable passion was communicated in no uncertain terms in the written questions submitted by the audience regarding their fear that this proposition may result in some form of tax levy. The Superintendent and Board acknowledged this passion and concern.
i)    The board and Superintendent assured the residents that there would be no levy of any form (no extension of existing levy etc.) or transfers of any funds on June 30th of any year from the fund balance as a result of voting yes on proposition 1.
ii)    The Superintendent and Board presented the following information as part of their justification for the development of this proposition request:
(1)    The schools are in critical need of repairs and upgrades. They believe that if these upgrades and repairs are not approved property values could begin to be impacted negatively as the facilities become outdated and education begins to be impacted negatively.
(2)    Safety – Many of the items on the list are critical health and safety needs. These must get done by some means and this is the most effective way to fund these in terms of impact on the GI taxpayers.
(a)    State money (GI taxpayer provided money) pays a majority of the cost with only existing 2008 capital reserve funds paying remainder.
(3)     Items in Proposition 1 are targeted at improving student outcomes and at improving our current Top 10 ranking among WNY school districts.
(4)    Proposition #1 will be funded through only two sources:
(a)    State funding (~82.6%) and
(b)    The 2008 reserve fund that was approved by voters to generate a maximum of $10M dollars
(i)    It was reported that ~$8M has been raised from the 2008 voter referendum for creation of the capital reserve fund and that right now there is no intent to add to this reserve as per the Superintendent. The dollars for this reserve savings account come from the fund balance on June 30 every year.
(ii)    When (if) the full $10M is raised the 2008 levy can’t raise a dime above that amount as per “State education Law”
1.    At current rate of collection this very substantial taxpayer levy will end sometime in 2012 if the $10M limit is reached resulting in the elimination of that levy.
(iii)    It was stated that if a levy (tax) was required associated with funding proposition 1 that a new voter referendum would be required for approval by the voters.

Proposition #2:
3)    The primary concern communicated consistently by residents regarding proposition #2 was that our current taxes are excessive:
a)    Lots of passion was clearly communicated in no uncertain terms in written questions submitted by the audience related to excessive taxes.
b)    It was noted that the Property tax paid by Erie County residents as a percent of median home value ranks 6th out of 792 counties in the entire U.S. (We are in the top 1%)
c)    It was noted that while viewed as important by the board that the items listed on proposition 2 are not deemed critical and do not have health and safety risks associated with them if not done (they are nice to have not must have items). They do view these items as a priority.
d)    It was communicated that the decision by the board was to create two referendums – one that required no tax levy (Proposition 1) and one that does require a tax levy increase (Proposition 2) so the taxpayers could determine if a tax increase was warranted.

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