If you're a resident of the North Tonawanda School District you might be interested to know the school board is considering a plan that would place a 3 percent tax on your utility bills to benefit the school district.  That's 3 percent on your electric, gas, phone and cable bills, in addition to the school property tax you already pay.

How about that for a kick in the head?  And, it's completely legal. The purpose of it is to circumvent the State Mandated Property Tax Cap.  But there would be no cap on this proposed tax.  If we had an especially cold winter and our gas bills were high, you'd still pay a 3 percent tax on the total of that month's bill no matter how high it was.  And that's EVERY month.

Families with children might be especially hard hit if they tend to have high cell phone bills.  You'd be taxed 3 percent every month for your cell phone usage.  How much is your cell phone bill?

And if this scheme was successful, you know how things go; 3.5 percent next year, 4 percent the year after that and who knows how high it would go.  And if it works for North Tonawanda can you imagine the number of other school districts that would want a slice of that gluttonous pie?

I spoke with North Tonawanda School Board President Michelle Golding last week and she told me the school board is looking for creative ways to close a $1-million budget deficit.  How about being creative in cutting expenses?  I asked her about that and she said the district has cut many expenses and I asked her to name one.  She couldn't think of one.

She also mentioned maintaining the excellence of a North Tonawanda education and increasing the graduation rate.  How does soaking the taxpayers increase the graduation rate?

And how did North Tonawanda Schools suddenly find itself facing a $1-million budget deficit?  Who was asleep at the switch?

The number of students in the school district continues to decline each year.  With fewer students to serve, even considering inflation, expenses proportionately should be declining not increasing.

Your school tax is by far the biggest tax bill you pay each year.  But school districts don't seem to play by the same rules that everybody else does.  If they need or want something, they go to the cash cow; the residents and business owners.  If taxpayers are forced to make ends meet with whatever resources they have, why don't school districts?  It's got to stop.

Residents will be asked to vote on the school budget on Tuesday, May 16th and the school board is encouraging residents to comment on the proposed budget the week before on Tuesday, May 9th at 7:00 pm.  But by that time the budget will already be in place.  So the key is to attend the next school board meeting on Wednesday, April 5th and let the board know loud and clear that the tax plan they're considering is unacceptable.

That board meeting will be held at the Administration Offices at 176 Walck Road corner of Gilmour Avenue at the former Gilmour Elementary School.  The meeting starts at 7:30 pm.

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