Local Senior Stands Against High School Referendum

The former educator does not support the referendum because the "large increases in taxes are a hardship on everyone."

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by a "Rocky Hill Resident and Concerned Senior Citizen:"

I attended the on April 12, 2012. This was my first time attending any town meeting and was quite taken aback.

Let me first say that I am 100% behind the education of our children. I spent over 25 years in higher education to include administration and teaching. I truly believe the one demographic that separates success (however you define it) and failure more than any other is - education.

With that said, it was extremely disappointing to me to witness many presenting prepared and coached speeches to the council. The outcome of the council’s decision to me was a foregone conclusion. All nine council members voted yes on the approval of the $44.66 million referendum.

It was rather sad that only one individual attempted to defend the many senior citizens in Rocky Hill. If I would have known that there were going to be lines of students asking the council to pass this referendum, I would have made certain that there were an equal number of us seniors expressing our concerns how tax increases could have negative impact on our quality of life. It is a shame that we did not voice our opinion. I do not think the council made an informed decision by only hearing from one side.

At the April 2nd Government Operations meeting of the town council, the town manager said: “we don’t want to go any later into the session in June because it leaves us limited time and you do not want psychological impacts of the tax bills or anything else being utilized to sway how the question is answered." I believe the question is the June 5th vote on the school referendum. Town government has a duty and responsibility to all the residents of Rocky Hill to let us know what our new tax bill will be before June 5th, based on the total town budget to include this referendum.

The council should have been up front with all the tax increases. If the on May 21st, the mill rate is going from 24.5 to 25.8 according to the town manager (see Hartford Courant article May 16, 2012). If the referendum vote passes, the mill rate would jump to 27.0 (see Rocky Hill public schools special issue March 2012). For a home assessed at 175,000, the taxes would go from approximately $4,287 to $4725 when the referendum takes effect. This would be a 10.2% increase in taxes for the average home owner.

Large increases in taxes are a hardship on everyone, but especially our senior population living on a fixed income. Personally, I cannot make an informed decision unless I know all the facts. If I know the amount my total yearly taxes will increase for this fiscal year and next, and I believe it is a fair assessment, I would consider a yes vote. Without this information, I will have no option but to vote NO.


Rocky Hill Resident and Concerned Senior Citizen

Rich Laria

Major A. May 24, 2012 at 08:27 AM
Your comment: "The town is asking for 260$ a year (declining each year) for a little while (u mean 20 years don't you) to better the school (building)." Using your number, I believe that amounts to $5200 over the life of the bond. This doesn't even include the cost being stuck (add another 44% or $3685) on the state, (of which we are a part). The TOTAL cost (plus interest) "PER GRADUATING STUDENT" is around $15000. Extrapolating, it would then cost a business, like Westside Market, with a ~$3mil property assessment, $78,000 (plus another $61,000 paid by state taxpayers). Those costs will be passed along in higher prices which we will all pay, making Westside over-priced, and raising the state debt. With cheese at $10/pound, how much higher can it go? And, what happens to over-priced businesses, yup, they go under. You're free to recalculate this in cents per minute (.05 cents/minute) (rather than dollars per year) if you want to make the number appear really, really small, so u can make you point that the cost is inconsequential.
Harry May 24, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Wow, Major, LOVE your comments. To Jerry C's point, he mentioned the town isn't asking for money to put up for an amusement park or plaza. To be honest, I would prob be in favor of something like that, why? Because those items would bring future revenues to the town. THIS is what the discussion should be and to take those revenues and use them for school improvements. Pay for it up front and no more TAX hikes...
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Harry, I am missing the logic. If the bridge over 91 on Elm st falls, we should wait until we save enough money to rebuild it? If your roof is leaking, you wait until you save money to fix it? or you take out a loan and get it done before it causes more damage? in this metaphor the town is the house and the leaking roof is our schools.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 02:07 PM
and the water damge is lower home values and kids unprepared to compete in a global econamy.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 02:07 PM
ugh economy
Harry May 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Pete, find another route around the bridge, use existing revenues to fix. If my roof is leaking I go up on my roof and I fix it. I don't walk into my neighbors homes and take money from them, that doesn't belong to me, to make repairs that I am responsible for. How about this, those that pay 6000+ a year for property tax are left alone, those making payments less than 6000 a year, are then moved up to $6000 a year. Why it's only fair that we all pay the same... It's for the children
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Nice...pay as you go....What next Cash on delivery for police calls? $200 if your robbed, $700 if you are raped,$2000 if you are murdered? How about toll roads so only car owners pay for the upkeep of town roads? How about only people who take walks pay for all the side walks? Would we go retro and ask your parents to kick back the money to all the tax payers who didnt have kids when you were in school? And the school isnt "your neighbors buiding" it is the towns, all of ours including you.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Harry my apologies as I thought I was replying to the post about only families with school aged children should pay for school repairs. Regarding capping taxes, property taxes are based on the value of propery you own. The $260 a year is an average. Those owning the McMansions, which their are many in town, would pay more, and those owning the small ranches in town, which there are also many, would pay less.
Harry May 24, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Pete, lol, love this... If only people knew exactly where their tax dollars were going, if only we all had to write out check directly to the Government like business owners do, we would all be up in arms with pitch forks. Anywho, ya, I'm on board with updating the High School and the other schools. But I am not on board with this specific plan. We are in the worst economic times in CT history. Gas prices are hitting $5 a gallon, food costs are up, heath care costs are up. And to put this lavish plan in front of us, and cry the poor poor children is absolutely ridiculous. Only perform work that is required for NEASC accreditation. Parking spaces, white boards, new copiers etc are NOT required. There is absolutely NO reason the cost to the Taxpayers should be 60 MILLION. I don't care how you spin it, the true cost is 60 Million, and we all know that number will go up. And then Part II right? I really like this plan to pay for it, your thoughts Pete? How about this, those that pay 6000+ a year for property tax are left alone, those making payments less than 6000 a year, are then moved up to $6000 a year.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Your plan favors the rich and punishes the poor, mostly seniors. It would also give the town no reason to rectify spending knowing they could collect 6k from someone currently paying 2k. Poor economy favors us with low interest rates. $5 gas and $10 cheese really dont play a factor but shows a trend of what the repair costs will be in 3 years or 5 or 10. I am glad you feel the schools needs repair. I believe that to be fact. I have no idea what a "White Board" is. I do however feel our elected officials have been working on this for 8 years and they know our residents have no problem with voting no. With that in mind I find it difficult to believe they would risk a no vote by asking for the moon. I do know that the children of the USA now rank 13th in Math world wide and 27th in science. (of course we are still number one in self-esteem). We need schools that will empower our children to compete in the 21st century. It is a much different world out there than when we were kids. I beleive the high school was built poorly because it was stripped down to save money, money that we will now spend 10-fold. I believe just the debate on our schools and all the media play it gets its hurting us, all of us. My biggest fustration is, as we fight to find the agreeable number to get a yes vote, any savings will be lost to inflation. If we band aid the school, and only fix to be acredited, we lose state funding and are left with a 35 year old buiding which will need more repairs soon.
Jeff L. May 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I vowed to not comment any longer, but this is just a factual response. A white board is used instead of a black board and instead of chalk, uses dry erasable markers. As more and more classrooms get computers of some sort, these are needed as dust created from chalk plays havoc with the computers. I believe that could be a primary reason for the change from black board to white boards.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thanks Jeff, so White Boards would protect our investment in computers. In search for common ground can we all agree our schools need computers?
Jerry C. May 24, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Taxes are going to go up either way if its a yes vote or a no vote. Don't understand why you wouldn't pay the money for education and for the children rather than something else
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Well said and it will make Rocky Hill more attractive to move to which will increase our home values. Im not going to live forever and y'all need someone to move in to my house when I am gone!!!!!!
John Q. Public May 24, 2012 at 03:56 PM
One prime, obvious comment about waste, and then one about how we're spoiling our children. First, I live in the vicinity of West Hill School, and frequently see the school buses arrive in the morning. Yesterday there were two full size buses turning into Cronin Drive and then the school parking lot. One had FIVE students the other six students. We need two FULL SIZE school buses to bring 11 students to school in the morning? That is pure WASTE! Second, again in reference to the school buses and coddling. There is one child who is picked up in the morning only five houses away from West Hill School. I measured the distance - .2 mile! Our children can't walk .2 of a mile to get to school? That too is pure waste. These are just two simple examples of why our BOE needs $30+ million to educate 2500 children. Finally, as the to the cost per student that is being bandied about, claiming its lower than neighboring towns. Remember, the expenses to maintain and administer the school facilities are included in their BOE budgets. In Rocky Hill those costs are borne by the TOWN side of the budget. If we were to add those costs to the BOE budget and THEN calculate the cost per student, I'll bet that the number would be similar or maybe even higher than neighboring towns. Once again, its misinforming the public if the BOE doesn't give us the REAL cost per student!
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 04:04 PM
John Q. Because of West Hill proximity to rt 3, the towns insurance policy will not allow children to walk. So every child is assigned to a bus. it is parents who chose to drive their children that leaves the buses empty not the Town. I am sure you see the line on Cronin drive each morning. I remember years ago the trouble I got in allowing my son to ride his bike one morning. Any way as wasteful as this is, it is more about security than coddling. Like pasturized milk and cadilidic converters, another s*** sandwich we are forced to eat. Not the fault of the Town managers or the school admin but society itself. Second I cant blame the BOE for how the Town Council allocates its financials, The schools are in need of repair/ or replacment regardless of which budget it goes under.
Harry May 24, 2012 at 06:19 PM
You can blame the current liberal socialist brainwashing education systems as to why we are tanking.. Dumping money on this problem is NOT the answer. We, as a country have spent over 6 TRILLION dollars on the war on poverty and things only get worse. What was that documentary about America's education system, Saving Superman? Maybe we should all get together and watch that
Harry May 24, 2012 at 06:21 PM
They have dustless chalk Jeff, it's even cheaper than the regular chalk... I knew you couldn't stay out of this ;o)
Harry May 24, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Yup, they do, and the schools I attended, had computers and chalk boards
Harry May 24, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Jerry, you are right, taxes went up a few days ago, mill rate went from 24.5 to 25.8 and we haven't even gotten to the vote yet.... Why would anyone want even more taxes.. We have a say on this tax increase and we don't want ANY tax increases
Harry May 24, 2012 at 06:24 PM
The town will be even more attractive with even lower taxes
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 06:26 PM
liberal socialist brainwashing really? Reagan tripled our debt and George W. doubled it. I have never heard any call them liberal. No Child Left Behind? another of W's brainstorms. Of course this has nothing to do with our schools needing repair or replacement.
Pete Doll May 24, 2012 at 06:33 PM
You know where there is low taxes? The Villiages, central Floridas VD capital. Is that what we want RH to become?
Rich May 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I once again would urge all of you to take a look at the $44.66 million proposal. You will find it in the library. It is eye opening. I would also recommend you take a look at the proposed board of education budget especially the page titled “budget by object summary”. You will find the school budget on the Rocky Hill school website. The 2012-2013 school budget is over $30 million. Let me call your attention to three areas. Salaries & benefits comprise 87.21%; Transportation comprises 4.49%; Supplies, Equipment & Furniture comprise 2.43%. Many of the requests in the proposal should be a line item in the yearly operational budget, not in the referendum. My concern is the BOE is using this referendum to get everything they want instead of limiting the request to get everything they need at the expense of the taxpayers.
Computer Services May 25, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Very good points Rich!
Pete Doll May 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
of course the bigger the referendum the more the state will reimburse. Thats free money to the town, use it or lose it! Are we against free money as well?
charlie May 29, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I'm a senior on a fixed income and I support this referendum. I hope most folks will see past a few peoples rhetoric who seem to have nothing better to do than blog all day. There was one blog site already created with some real information, factual documentation if anyone wants to view that . This site seems to run a long string of senseless banter.The other blog site is captioned "how would you vote on the HS referendum?" Check it out.....
Harry May 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Pete, can you tell us all where we can pick up that free money to cover the increase in our taxes, should we just come over to your house to pick it up? How about we just send the bill to you. Free money????
Harry May 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Charlie, 4 short years from now you will be paying $1000 more a year onto of the mill rate already being bumped up to 25.8. No concern about the price of gas? Medications?, home heating oil? Cost of food ? All that is needed is about 10 to 12 Million to keep the hs accredited, 1/2 of what the residents would be required to pay for this 45 MILLION dollar joke.
Computer Services May 29, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Charlie. thanks for adding to our nonsensical debate... after all, that's what it's for, for us free-speech advocates. I've got an idea ... how about we propose a $60mil facility to house fixed-income seniors, returning vets and the homeless? Also, how about another $60mil to take care of their medical,dental and prescription needs. Now decide who has the greater need. Are you willing to come up with equal bucks for our new facility and then double it to cover medical/dental? Remember to calculate into your response that seniors have already spent 40-60 years paying for someone's kids education whereas the parents who're whining have spent probably less than ten years in town paying for anyone's education.Why is it always those who've done the least who complain the loudest and feel the most entitled to everyone else's hard work! VOTE NO and payback those who've already invested plenty in our kids education.


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