Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 14, 2009

Budget Voting research from Lois

Filed under: Budget — Editor @ 6:49 pm
    Yes No %Yes %No Total Votes      
2008            
Charlestown   296 77 79% 21% 373      
Richmond   218 81 73% 27% 299      
Hopkinton   186 228 45% 55% 414      
               
2009      
Charlestown   224 142 61% 39% 366  
Richmond   142 125 53% 47% 267  
Hopkinton   160 260 38% 62% 420  
     
     
  %Incr/Decr. in Voters %Incr in No votes    
Charlestown -2% 18%    
Richmond -11% 20%    
Hopkinton 1% 7%

 lois14

lois2

It is important to notice the change in voter opinion within the towns of Charlestown and Richmond,  
which varies more dramatically than Hopkinton, which appears to be consistent from year to year.  
     
Also,      
note an 11 % drop in the number of Richmond voters.  Charlestown and Hopkinton’s attendance  
figures were consistent year to year.    
     
It is interesting to note that Charlestown’s consistency in voter turnout is not reflected in their support  
of the budget.  Their ‘No’ votes increased by 18%, which is probably more dramatic than Richmond  
as one could argue that Richmond’s % increase in ‘No’ votes is related in part to its decrease in  
attendance.      

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29 Comments »

  1. What this tells me is we lucked out by getting a low turnout. I’m sure the pro-chariho forces will turn out next time. Rumor is they cut $250K last night, or half a percent, from the budget. Not much.

    Comment by david — April 15, 2009 @ 7:46 am | Reply

  2. What’s most pathetic about the whole budget referendum is that less than 6% of the eligible voters actually took the time to go out and vote. Hopkinton leads with having 6.95%, Charlestown second with 6.1% and Richmond a distant third with 4.09% of the eligible voters having turned out. Just over a thousand voters overall out of a eligible pool of over 18,000 voters.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 15, 2009 @ 7:57 am | Reply

  3. Now we need demographics on the yes voters, so they can be educated by a group other than the NEA and its lackies. The next vote will be a moot point, once the NEA machine prints its pamphlets, and puts out its newsletters and the Chariho benefactors “educate” their neighbors and friends on the budget, I’m sure the 1 vote margin will evaporate.

    Comment by RS — April 15, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  4. 250K of which 112K is the out of district transportation that was reported over the weekend? Even worse than what it sounds like.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 15, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  5. Keep talking to people, most I talked to were very uninformed about the school funding mechanism and the issues. Say what you want about that, but people do seem to understand when presented with the facts.

    While the next referendum may pass, we need to keep increasing the base of informed voters. I bet we all know plenty of people who are not familar with what’s going on. Ask others to talk to more people. There will be more referendums and more CSC elections, we need to keep creating informed voters, regardless of how slow it grows.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 15, 2009 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  6. Agreed Gene and you’re right CP, a quarter million dollars is nothing to sneeze at, but it rings hollow when the big picture taken into account.

    Comment by RS — April 15, 2009 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  7. Hi!
    1. Thanks for your analysis Lois. The media should be doing that! I will be e-mailing them after this to tell them they should review this information.
    2. Many people do not bother to really consider their vote on both sides of the equation. They start out either for or against the budget.
    3. While it not my sole issue, a management study of an outside expert can really assist the community in making better decisions.
    4. Many people vote whether they can afford the tax rate regardless of the merits of a budget.
    5. It is interesting how many line item transfers, happen among budget line items during the life of a budget.
    6. As some of you know, I am on the governing board of the Ashaway Fire District. Our annual meeting for our fire district is the Third Thursday in July. I believe it starts at 6:30 P.M.,. I will mention this meeting again on this forum but you may want to make note of it. Eligible voters are registered voters in the Ashaway Fire District or people who are non residents who pay taxes in it. The Ashaway Fire District Charter Revision Committee have been working on our district charter and there should be a meeting tonight at 7:00 P.M., at the Ashaway Fire Station. My biggest disappointment to date was we tied in making the offices of treasurer and tax collector appointive instead of elective: 1. It would give the governing body the power to select these officials and consider their backgrounds; 2. Set office hours and expectations;3. Consider appointees outside the district; and 4. Likely guarantee more stability in those offices.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 15, 2009 @ 11:18 am | Reply

  8. Hi!
    No. 4 should be Many people vote for whether……”
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 15, 2009 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  9. Hi again,
    The Tax Tea Party today has interewting mix of speakers including a priest no less! Well known Rhode Island personalities John DePetro and “Survivor” participant Helen Glover, and local peronalities in the Westerly-Chariho are will be speaking namely Jim Beale and Bill Felkner. Check out http://www.riteaparty.com/speakers.html ,.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 15, 2009 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  10. Ref #7:

    #6 Hearing the song “It’s all about me” playing again.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 15, 2009 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  11. Of the 248K cut, 241K would have been saved with no SC action. 84K is from a state wide change on transportation. 52K is from teacher retirements, and 65K is from a roof repair bid coming in lower than expected. The only real “cut” is a 47K clerk position at Charlestown. I still don’t see a plan to position Chariho for the reduction in state aid that is going to come at us very hard in the very near future.

    Comment by J Curran — April 15, 2009 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  12. Kudos to Lois. I saw the same raw numbers as Lois but didn’t understand their significance until she presented them arranged as above.

    David, I agree that we lucked out in the sense that the vote was so close that everyody can claim that their vote decided the issue. Whether the budget passed or failed was really a flip of the coin. But I don’t think it was so close because of the light vote.

    The total 2009 vote of 1,053 was only 33 votes less than the total 2008 vote. But the YES vote in Charlestown dropped from 79% to 61% and in Richmond from 73% to 53%. Those are both substantial changes.

    And while the vote on both sides aye and nay are pathetically small, it seems clear that those who are paying any attention at all to Chariho are starting to realize that the money is not being handled well. If it were, there wouldn’t be the consistent record of surpluses year after year that councilor Sylvia Thompson has exposed.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — April 15, 2009 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  13. Note to CR … In case you aren’t familar with Richmond, J Curran is RTC member Jerry.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 15, 2009 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  14. Hi!
    No meeting tonight of the Ashaway Fire District Charter Revision Commission. We were suppose to start again after months of taking off from committee work. Will call the chair tonight. No meeting was posted. Talked with our committee secretary this afternoon.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 15, 2009 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  15. Hi!
    Chariho Parent if you want my autograph, please advise who I should make it out to and where to send it. I trust you won’t get nasty!
    BTW a number of local people NOT on the school committee bring much to the Chariho table. However it seems clear the overwhelming number of them come from Hopkinton. THe Westerly Sun http://www.thewesterlysun.com gave Georgia a nice editorial in tonight’s edition. I trust Georgia and her new colleagues engage in constructive discussion of the issues. From a time table point of view, a rejection of the new amount will most assuredly put a cramp in the towns getting their own budgets together and done.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 15, 2009 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  16. Thanks Gene for identifying Mr. Curran. I’m just getting to this string of posts and Mr. Curran makes the exact same observation about so-called budget cuts that I made on another post. I’m thrilled to see a local politician caught this scam and publically exposed it. Richmond might be getting smarter 😉

    To emphasize, except for one “cut” the rest were going to happen anyway. The only difference is that the School Committee and administration is admitting the initial budget was inaccurate. These “cuts” were really part of Chariho annual practice of overestimating expenses and underestimating revenue.

    I hope the reporting is wrong, but The Rag stated the only dissent to the slightly more honest budget was Mrs. Ure. This was extremely disappointing to read, but I jumped to conclusions previously after reading a news report, so I’m trying not to make that mistake again. Can anyone verify that Mr. Abbott, Mr. Vecchio, and Mrs. Carney are supportive of the latest budget? If so, based on the obvious scam used to pretend the budget has been cut by $250,000, I am very surprised and discouraged. They should be outraged that Mr. Ricci lied to them in the first place.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 15, 2009 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  17. Yep, a big whopping .05% cut………WOOHOO.

    Hey does everybody hear me yelling from the treetops in Hopkinton?

    Comment by RS — April 15, 2009 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  18. To answer CR’s question, Mrs. Carney, Mr. Abbott, and Mr. Vecchio voted to support the budget. So, we have to pick up at least 6 more votes to make up for their loss. It is up to those informed to get the word out as the scales have already tipped on the school committee, and will likely infect the towns with an attitude of surrender.

    Now, regarding the concern of local politicians and their municipal budgets, I really do not give a hill of beans whether the rejection of the Chariho budget hurts their schedule.

    The issue at hand is the continued tax increases that Richmond and Hopkinton “endure” year after year after year (Plus, I would like to include those that may be struggling in Charlestown, too). Now, we are facing one of the most economically challenging environments we have ever faced, not just for the towns, but for every living soul that lives within these towns.

    Most every citizen has made some serious sacrifices within their daily lives. And I am not talking about the devaluation of their 401K’s or the loss of value or loss of their homes. I am talking about the fact that many of our neighbors and friends have a reduction in income, or a lack of income coming into their homes. {Income: a very important part of our daily lives)

    Think on this. Our state continues with a serious revenue shortfall, so where do you think the revenue will come from?

    The revenue will come from increased taxes, or a “reduction in state aid” to cities and towns (ref. post #11 from councilor J. Curran), which will be passed on to you anyways through increased property taxes. (Renters will get the increase through their increased rents.)

    To summarize, where our personal budgets have been forced to become lean and mean to simply just provide the basic necessities of life, the school committee has chosen to apply a surplus of $2.25 million to a budget to convince people that it is “level-funded.” Well, it is not “level-funded.” The Chariho budget alone would have raised our tax burden over 4% prior to the token $247,000 budget adjustment provided partially by their interesting revenue/expense plan and by the state.

    Nevermind, the maintenance of effort (or the continued recurring expenses), that we are required by law to at least fund equally, is not shrinking. It is growing people, and the only thing that can reduce it is declining enrollment. And we know government, it is like a multi-celled organism. It grows exponentially, so it will not give up what it feeds on.

    So, what are people to do. Well, look at the numbers above. Opinions are changing, right? So, change a few more. Just like the ever growing support behind the nationwide tea parties, the tritown communities need to unite for change, as well.

    Therefore, make your vote count again. And if you didn’t vote, please do.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 16, 2009 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  19. So the three stalwarts, Mrs. Carney, Mr. Abbott, and Mr. Vecchio, have capitulated. I don’t trust the media, but I do trust Mrs. Buck. I can officially say I am ashamed of them, but thrilled Mrs. Ure was called into action just in time to offer at least some dissent.

    Did the three throw their hands up in frustration? Did they fall for the budget games? They couldn’t have been fooled by the $250,000 ruse, could they? Obviously the only true spending reduction was a token cutback of a clerk’s position. Certainly this couldn’t have been enough to change their minds?

    I remain puzzled why these three all of a sudden decided the budget is fine?

    Despite the economic troubles of some area families, the majority of people remain employed. Let’s be honest, most of us have enough discretionary income to weather more tax increases. If we are waiting for a majority of taxpayers to personally be unable to pay more taxes, we will never change enough voters’ minds. Taxes drive people from communities slowly, one family at a time. Until voters begin to empathize with poorer families and recognize that we are all better equipped to spend our own money, discretionary or not, to the benefit of our children, then government spending will continue to outpace our ability to earn.

    I do think of struggling families when I vote. I fear that most of my neighbors do not. The message will not work if the focus is on ability to pay. Most people can pay. We must convince people that it is in their family’s interest for them to keep their money rather than giving it to Chariho. We need voters to realize that there are families who cannot economically survive taxation exceeding inflation year after year after year.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 16, 2009 @ 1:16 am | Reply

  20. CR, Thanks for the trust. That is not to say that I cannot be wrong from time to time, so I look forward to your questioning of me. I will always provide the best answer I can from whatever info I have.

    My issue with the newspaper and the TV news was that they seemed like tabloids. They were in such a rush to publish an article to meet a deadline and beat the competition, that they forgot to get all sides of the story. And people feed off of this. Old school journalism is gone; they are in the “gotcha” mode, and it doesn’t matter who they hurt.

    And CR, I agree with you about how people vote. I think they figure that they can afford the increased taxes, so just vote “yes.” In the process they don’t give one thought about the many people who were struggling before, who will likely sink in a hole. Sadly, they may have been able to escape in the past, but this current fiscal crisis is not going to provide them an avenue. So, they will be stuck with their homes, and they will likely lose them.

    This is why I urge people to consider the reduction or loss of income faced by many, and tell the school committee that they have to be creative. If they can’t be creative, then just vote “NO.”

    And about the 3 school committee members, I think it is one of three scenarios.

    1. What’s the point, we do not have enough votes anyways.

    2. Just like mob mentality, they respond to each other, so if one jumps ship, the others follow.

    3. They support the budget with the $247,000 mostly state provided budget reduction.

    Tom made an observation last night. He said that many in Hopkinton were ready to give up the principal’s position when Mrs. Perra retired, as this would have saved around 100 Grand. (The Hope Valley principal could have traveled between the two, but that got defeated.) Why aren’t the SC members from Richmond and Charlestown (those that boisterously stand up in defiance against their own schools sacrificing, as well [There are two of them]) willing to make sacrifices too? As CP put it, just more “parochial” thought and actions, I guess. He is right, as long as this attitude continues, nothing will change.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 16, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  21. So it sounds as if we at least offered vouchers, then families who choose not to expose their children to a one way ticket on the train wreck will at least get some benefit from their tax dollars. So why aren’t we talking about them?

    Comment by RS — April 16, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  22. Yes, why aren’t we talking about vouchers, school choice, tax credits…whatever? Hopkinton needs to lead. Probably the easiest remedy is tax credits. They are already offered to any number of taxpayers, and credits won’t cost the town anything, in fact, they’ll save us a considerable sum.

    Personally I’d like to see choice for everyone, but Chariho shows us how useful incrementalism is and tax credits are a good starting point.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 16, 2009 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  23. Don’t tax credits help the homeowner only?

    People who rent do not pay directly to the town of Hopkinton.

    I would think that the voucher/scholarship option should make it possible for all to attend the school of their choice, not just the property owner.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 18, 2009 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  24. there are diff types of tax credits. Most operate by a lottery. People who wish their taxes to go towards these vouchers put them into a pool. then people using the vouchers are drawn out of that pool, either by lottery or means testing.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 18, 2009 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  25. This whole budget should be for the children.. Why do we hear NOTHING about the children anymore??

    VOTE YES – May 12th … The district can’t take anymore cuts! Think about the students!

    Comment by Chariho — May 3, 2009 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

    • A YES vote is a vote to doom our children with a 2/3 failure rate. Explain why I want my child enrolled in a system that can’t even attain a 50% pass rate.

      Comment by RS — May 4, 2009 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  26. We do think about the students, many of us have children in the district. We care a lot. In fact, many here keep making the point that it is about student achievement not more money for salary and benefits. One of the supt’s earlier recommendations was to cut K-8 field trips, would you support that to keep paychecks higher?

    But we also care about paying our mortgage, buying food, building retirement savings, paying for healthcare, helping our parents and grandparents … There’s more worthy ways to spend our tax dollars than we have, it is what it is, sorry. None of those NY bankers getting 7 figure bonuses in our town.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — May 3, 2009 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  27. Gene cuts to the chase. Chariho apologists want us to believe that the only good use of our money is to give it to Chariho employees. Anything less and we don’t care about “the children”.

    Sorry, but my child needs much more than a substandard Chariho education. I could purchase a better education for half the cost and everyone would win…but Chariho employees. If the poster “Chariho” and other Chariho sycophants truly care about “the children”, then start campaigning for school choice and you’ll finally be doing something “for the children”. Anything less is propaganda and a blatant attempt to use children to enrich yourselves. I can’t think of much worse than jeopardizing children futures so a bunch of adults have a plum job.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 4, 2009 @ 12:53 am | Reply

  28. Ref #25: Vote NO on the budget, the district could still cut a lot more given that the number of students are down but yet the budget keeps growing and growing.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 4, 2009 @ 6:59 am | Reply


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