"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson On School Budget and Taxes

Remember the self-proclaimed loud Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson trying to drum up support for overturning the voter’s wishes on the rejected Hightstown-East Windsor school budget? Thompson’s wrote a post on Blue Jersey to explain: “Why will I not be supporting any cuts and why will I be aggressively encouraging all of my counterparts to do the same.”

We wrote a post in response to Councilman Thompson’s post, pointing out the errors in the facts and logic he used in his entreaty. Well, now it seems as though Thompson’s constituents have persuaded him to change his position - he’s done a complete 180.

The Hightstown Borough Council and East Windsor Township Council cut $490,250 in capital outlay projects from the rejected East Windsor Regional School District Budget at a joint meeting that ended in discord.

The Hightstown Borough Council voted 4 to 1 with Councilwoman Constance Harendza-Harinxma absent. Councilman Patrick Thompson voted against approving the budget, revised to total $73,094,466 million.

He said the reduction would save a homeowner just $10, which was an inadequate response to a budget defeat of 1,178 to 967. "We have heard loud and clear from the public that taxes are too high," he said.

Yep, Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson doesn’t believe the cuts to the Hightstown-East Windsor school budget have gone far enough. Less than three weeks ago Thompson was adamantly opposed to any cuts in the school budget and was complaining federal, state and local taxes weren’t high enough. What an amazing turn around.

This proves that there is hope for even the loudest, most “progressive” politicians to see sense and do the right thing by taxpayers. Perhaps Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson will write a follow-up post on Blue Jersey explaining why he so completely changed his position. It’s an explanation that would surely enlighten many Blue Jersey readers.

Update: Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson has written to explain the Trenton Times reporter got it wrong and that the article linked above does not accurately reflect his remarks at the combined town council meeting last Thursday. Thompson’s email also explained he voted “no” on the revised budget for the reasons he expressed in his original post that began this discussion.

Links to New Jersey newspaper articles typically do not remain live for long. So we have posted the complete Times article to go along with a clarification Thompson wrote on the Times piece in the comments section. Thomson emailed us a link to an article from the Windsor-Hights Herald which we have also posted in the comments to this post.

The original title to this post - “Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson Says School Budget Cuts "Inadequate’’ reflected the Trenton Times article. But now that we have learned directly from Thompson that no amazing turnaround occurred, we have agreed to change our “irksome” post title. Blog posts on the web last a lot longer than newspaper articles, so now the the record should be clear and complete on this matter for all future readers.


At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Patrick Thompson said...

Devil in the details?

As I indicated at the beginning of this discussion, I would not be voting for any cuts to this budget.
And I did not vote for any cuts to the budgets.

Obviously this reporter was not paying attention to the discussion nor my comment last Tuesday evening when I was the ONLY Councilperson out of the 13 to vote NO to any cuts to the budget.

The voters and residents did make it loud and clear that taxes are too high. While doing so they also made it clear it is not the performance of the school district or the superintendent, nor the school budget itself that was being rejected. The school budget vote simply provided an opportunity for those most displeased to register this displeasure with property taxes.

My statement that evening indicated:
I heard loud and clear that residents are unhappy with their property taxes. But there is nothing we can do about that tonight. The devil in this case is not in the the details of the budget. The devil is in the funding system. By approving a cut to this budget we will be sending a message to the school board NOT to put forward fiscally responsible, lean-as-possible budgets. Always leave some fluff for the politicians to cut. This will not serve to benefit tax payers, students, nor our community at large. Additionally, as this cut of the budget will result in approaximately $10 reduction in property taxes per Hightstown resident (in retrospect I may have been wrong, it's more like $12.55) - it points out the absurdity of the action.

Again the devil is not in the details in this budget.

Let's not put a devil in the details for $12.55.

Patrick Thompson
Hightstown NJ

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Original article from the Trenton Times:

$490G in outlay projects cut from East Windsor schools
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Special to The Times

EAST WINDSOR -- The Hightstown Borough Council and East Windsor Township Council cut $490,250 in capital outlay projects from the rejected East Windsor Regional School District Budget at a joint meeting that ended in discord.

The Hightstown Borough Council voted 4 to 1 with Councilwoman Constance Harendza-Harinxma absent. Councilman Patrick Thompson voted against approving the budget, revised to total $73,094,466 million.

He said the reduction would save a homeowner just $10, which was an inadequate response to a budget defeat of 1,178 to 967. "We have heard loud and clear from the public that taxes are too high," he said.

The East Windsor Township Council voted unanimously to approve the revised budget.

The $490,250 reduction altered the amount to be raised by taxation to $52,392,60.

Before voting to approve the revised budget, board of education members expressed their disappointment in its rejection. Board member Bruce Ettman called for a change in the state aid formula, which is the subject of an online petition at both municipality's Web sites, and "unfunded mandates."

Board member Bonnie Thayer said local elected officials should "band together to fight the common enemy, the people in the legislature who are sitting with their hands underneath them."

Board member Ricardo Perez predicted, "We will all be here (with a defeated budget) next year unless the state fixes the formula."

Board member Susan Lloyd suggested the municipal officials could be more supportive of the school budget.

This comment angered East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov who was in charge of the meeting. Mironov said she has been recognized for her support of the school district.

"Many citizens question whether the school district functions in a business-like manner," Mironov said. "I admonish you to remember who your friends are, and who your partners are."

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Article from the Windsor-Hights Herald:

Defeated school budget reduced by $490,250
By: Dick Brinster, Staff Writer
Full details in the Herald on May 26

EAST WINDSOR -- The defeated regional school budget was cut by $490,250 Thursday night by the combined councils of the township and Hightstown.

That reduced the spending measure to $78.7 million and the amount to be raised by taxation to $52.4 million. The money came from capital outlay projects.

Only one of 12 council members, Hightstown's Patrick Thompson, voted no, as he said he would before the reviewing process began. The councils were given a month from the defeat of the budget on April 18 to submit an amended spending measure to the county.

"That is not the devil in the details," Mr. Thompson said of the line items of the budget, then explained why he thought a cut was ridiculous. "If my math is right, the average Hightstown taxpayer will get about a $10 reduction."

No official estimates were made, but last year a $1 million cut resulted in a decline of 3 cents in the school tax rates of both municipalities. The defeated budget called for an increase of $307 in the school tax bill of a home assessed at the township average of $130,000 and a $179 boost for a home assessed at the borough average of $120,000.

East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov rejected any suggestions that the combined councils were not supportive of the school system.

"The people voted on April 18 and they did vote it no," she said after school (sic) board members voted unanimnously (sic) to accept the verdict. "You may have thought that was not appropriate, you may have felt that it was not just. But that is the way East Windsor Township and Hightstown voted."

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Patrick Thompson said...

Thanks again for the clarification and change of the title for this post.

I take all criticism of my position and our differences of opinions proudly. Just didn't want you guys to think I was a one of those "liberal flip floppers" we hear so much about.

I stand by my opinions and positions, and voted proudly according to those convictions. A little lonely too perhaps? Comes with the territory.

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

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At 10:52 AM, Anonymous consejo comprar yate said...

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