Candidate remarks torpedo extra fixes in FWCS budget
Confused as to why the Fort Wayne Community Schools board passed up an opportunity to make some inroads in its extensive list of building needs? Two words: Election Day.
The boards 5-2 vote Tuesday came after a Journal Gazette election preview story in which school board candidate Glenna Jehl was quoted criticizing incumbent John Peirce.
Theres no tax increase (Peirce) is not in favor of, Jehl said.
That set a pretty clear trap for Peirce and incumbent Becky Hill: Vote to support the districts 2013 budget as proposed and be pilloried for raising taxes.
Ultimately, its a no-win situation for the school board: Allow necessary building needs to go unmet and risk being painted as an irresponsible steward; vote to support a tax increase to cover needed repairs and face attack for raising taxes.
Jehl and other critics cant lose, with ammunition whichever way the vote goes.
The proposed tax increase came from a maneuver the General Assembly approved this year to bail out school districts that werent properly neutralizing the effect of their teacher pension debt on taxpayers. FWCS wasnt one of those districts, but the temporary opportunity to use some of the money earmarked for pension debt for building repairs, bus replacement and transportation costs was one that district officials said they were obligated to offer the board.
The boards decision will save taxpayers $12.90 a year on a home assessed at $100,000, but the additional revenue to replace 42-year-old bleachers at Wayne and Northrop high schools and an aging section of roof at North Side is lost.
Since 2005, nearly $29 million has been diverted from FWCS capital projects, bus replacement and transportation funds to offset the pension debt obligations. Would Jehl have preferred the money come from classroom instruction?
A gamble that’s paid off
Struggling horse racetracks in a number of states pushed officials to allow slot machines, and several – including Indiana – complied. Yet some of the tracks still struggle.
One finding success is in New York, the Aqueduct track in Queens. In its first year, the casino became the nations highest-grossing slots center in the nation, with the average machine generating twice as much income as those in Las Vegas.
But Aqueduct has some built-in advantages, not the least of which is population density.
More than 5.5 million people – fewer than one million less than all of Indiana – live within 10 miles of the track, the New York Times reports. Another is the Big Apple monopoly – Aqueduct is the only legal casino in all of New York City.
But – as Indiana officials and casino operators know – when someone or someplace wins at gambling, someone else loses.
In the case of Aqueduct, the big loser is Atlantic City, N.J., once the only place in the eastern U.S. to legally gamble at a casino.
Another is nearby Yonkers, N.Y.
Predictably, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking to expand gambling, seeking to open seven full-scale casinos that include table games as well as slots.