"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Demonstrating The Reason For High Taxes in New Jersey

Roberto at DynamoBuzz points us to an article from the Union City Reporter about construction of a new $136 million Emerson High school in Union City, New Jersey.

According to the report, the new school will have recreational facilities including a 21,000 square foot gymnasium; a unique 4,000-person capacity rooftop athletic field with bleachers; a performing arts auditorium that seats about 1,000; a 12,000 square foot media center; health screening and childcare centers; and a 200-space parking garage. Oh, and 66 classrooms.

The article explains the “high school” will be one of six demonstration projects of school construction going on around the state. A project surely demonstrating that money is no object when a community does not supply any of the funds for its school construction and that the concept of funding a “thorough and efficient” education has reached the point of absurdity.

The $6 billion the state budgeted for necessary “Abbott" school construction is gone with less than half of the construction projects funded. The state now believes another $12 billion dollars will be required to complete “Abbott” school construction programs. As the Star-Ledger has reported, “Abbott” school construction has cost as much as 84% more and has averaged 45% more than school projects funded through local property taxes.

Emerson High School will have so many unnecessary and extravagant amenities that one would think state leaders would have been too embarrassed to be associated with such obvious abuse of taxpayer money. Yet, Acting Governor Codey happily attended the ground breaking ceremony fully aware of the state’s school construction fund is completely broke and half of the court mandated projects will require the taxpayers to dig deeper.

This is just one example of the contempt the state’s politicians, judges, educators and bureaucrats have for New Jersey’s taxpayers. Votes and political donations are purchased with your tax dollars, not schools. There is no other explanation. Anyone that felt even the slightest accountability for spending the people’s money responsibly would have put a stop to this high school before it got off the drawing board.

What a design that came off the drawing board. Imagine the potential disasters with a rooftop athletic field, not to mention the operating and maintenance costs associated with running a facility that could better be described as recreation complex than a school. Of course this presents no problem for the property tax payers in Union City; they only pay 9% of the tab for their children to attend school.

As your property taxes soar and as the Democrats in Trenton pile on more state taxes, keep in mind it is the inequity in state funding between the “Abbot” and “non-Abbott” districts and the squandering of school construction funds that are to blame.

Milburn Township, considered to be one of the wealthiest school districts in the state provides a quality education without elaborate school facilities at an average cost of $11,820 per student. Local school districts build schools on average at half the cost of state constructed schools. There is a reason for this – when you have to pay the bills yourself, money matters and it’s less likely to be wasted. When the other guy is stuck paying the bill, some people just don’t give a damn.

One major problem in New Jersey is that too many people don’t give a damn and far too many don’t have the vaguest idea what’s driving up their taxes. Wouldn’t it be great if this year the politicians running for state assembly and governor educated voters and campaigned on this issue? If they won’t make it an issue, it's time taxpayers did.


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Jack said...

My hometown of Montclair, New Jersey suffers from similar pork barrel spending on schools. Recently a school was schedules to be built for $35 million. It will include solar panels and god knows what else. While education is a priority, lavish construction shouldn't be. For more insight, go to www.jerseyperspective.blogspot.com

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Peregrin said...

I believe one and all must look at it.
here | here | here


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