To the Editor:

As a former chairman of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, and also the Board of Education, I feel it’s important to speak up about the importance of people contacting City Hall and their aldermen to request the Board of A&T be allowed to fulfill their duties as outlined in the city charter to put forth the best possible budget for next year.

Covid-19 creates many unknowns, and that is reason to give the proposed budget for next year extra scrutiny.

The mayor claimed his budget request was flat funding everything, but if you look at the details, he’s allocated an additional $610,000 to the city side of the budget without providing any additional funds to the BoE.

In the discussion at the May 8 A&T meeting, the mayor was unprepared and punted on questions he’d been provided in advance. His answer on an income line item was made up without bothering to look up what the line item actually represented.

In extra tight budgets you’d expect takedowns in line items that invariably have large surpluses at the end of each year. That didn’t happen.

A month or so ago, the mayor said he could do the budget in his sleep. I wonder if perhaps he did.

Yesterday, the chairman of A&T moved to approve the mayor’s proposed budget without any of the department interviews required in our charter. Had the vote been taken, A&T would have completed their work on next year’s budget in about an hour.

The mayor handpicked a majority of the BoE this term, and he’s still treating them like they’re the enemy. If the mayor’s proposed budget is adopted, every aspect of our educational system will be damaged. We will lose dozens of employees who have been working hard to ensure our students are prepared to compete with students from districts that greatly outspend us. Why the mayor persists in attacking the school system is unfathomable. He should be thanking them for continuing to succeed in spite of limited resources.

Over the last 12 years, if you factor in the increase of education cost sharing funds from the state, the city has increased their spending of tax dollars about 70 percent faster than they’ve allowed the BoE budget to grow. Each year they face dwindling resources. If they were wasting money, we wouldn’t be near the top 25 percent for student achievement with a budget in the bottom 7 percent for the state.

The reasonable thing to do is to look at actual needs across the board and allocate resources in the way most needed considering current and expected conditions. That is the proper role of the Board of A&T.

End the power plays. Get people working together to allocate available resources for the good of our residents. I urge you to contact your aldermen and the members of the Board of A&T to encourage them to meet the budget requirements of the charter, and to use tax dollars to fund all departments equitably.

Here is a link with contact information for our aldermen:

Here is the information for Apportionment and Taxation:

Mark Holden