Why is the Somers Point Board of Education spending thousands of dollars to hold a special election tomorrow, Tuesday, Sep. 27? ? Why didn’t they put it on the regular election ballot for free on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8? ? ?Special elections mean low turnouts and fewer taxpayers voting.
The purpose of this special election is to get voters to approve spending $9.2 million to fix up three schools and to borrowing all $9.2 million to pay for it. ? That borrowed money, together with interest and Wall Street “transaction fees” must be paid back with higher taxes for next 20 years.
Notice that “Public Question” to borrow $9.2 million doesn’t mention the word “spend” or “borrow”. ? The Somers Point Board of Education cleverly asks approval “to appropriate” $9.2 million and “to issue bonds” for ?$9.2 million.
At one time, public officials only borrowed money to build new construction. ? Routine maintenance and replacement were paid out of current expenses. ? Condominium Associations are forced by law to know that if a roof needs to be replaced every 15 years, the Association must set aside 1/15 of the cost of a new roof every year. ? It does the same thing for heaters, air conditioners, and elevators. ? ? At one time, school and local officials did the same thing.
But now we have another “New Normal”. ? Years ago, Democrat Governors Jim McGreevey and John Corzine forced local officials to have “Project Labor Agreements” to favor union contractors. ? As a result, costs of routine repairs are now three to four times higher. ? ?Instead of setting money aside, and paying for routine repairs and replacements each year, local officials now just let everything run down. ? Then they take out big loans to rebuild everything at once. ? They often use this as an opportunity to hide many unnecessary pet projects. ? ?To avoid big tax hikes for one or two years, they borrow money and give us smaller tax hikes for next 20 years.
This avoids complaints about “Project Labor Agreements” and new environmental rules that drive up costs. ? It also lets politicians reward their friends on Wall Street who give big campaign donations. ? But it means higher taxes every year. ? We never get a break when we finally pay off the loan for a new school or city improvement.
Most taxpayers understand this and vote “no” on public questions. ? ? To avoid this, public school officials deliberately set up special elections so few taxpayers even know there is an election. ? They promise public school employees and parents all sorts of ways they will benefit from spending the money. ? Many schools often send children home with notes reminding their parents to vote. ? ?Many use their official website and emergency telephone notification system to get out the “yes” vote.
Another problem is State government. ? ?State officials often reward irresponsible school districts that borrow by promising to pay 40% of the debt payments for next 20 years. ?Responsible school districts that set aside money to do their repairs each year get nothing. ? Because State Government also borrows money to cover unsustainable costs, state pension and highway repair funds are broke. ? Although State officials promise to pay 40% of debt payments for next 20 years, state may be too broke to keep that promise in a few years. ? In the past, the State encouraged public schools to offer “free” busing for students, but then cut that funding when there was a “budget crisis”.
This is not just a Somers Point problem. ? Voters in Mays Landing, Galloway Township, and towns and school districts around New Jersey will also be voting to borrow money for routine maintenance and replacement during the next few months.