County Executive Maggie Brooks defended her budget fix plan called FAIR on Friday. Brooks held a press event in front of
“We don't have it at the County level don't get state aid, we don't have an opportunity to create slush fund because we are doing more with less, we are reducing our budget each and every year, so I'm saying to school districts, if you're using every penny you've got, then maybe its time to go out and start increasing your revenue, but you're not even using what we're giving you, so how can you complain about a 2% impact on your budget,” says Brooks.
Brooks offered the County's own budgeting team up to the suburban school districts to help them determine how to better cut costs. Under the "FAIR" plan, suburban schools would lose $29.3 million dollars to the county, helping make up for rising Medicaid costs. The suburban districts voted unanimously Wednesday to sue the County over the “FAIR” plan.
“We would be happy to set up a meeting of business officials with her people and help them understand how we go about our process of setting up budgets, saving money, we think it would be very educational for them, because we really think they don't understand,” says Jody Siegle, executive director of the Monroe County School Boards Association. Siegle says the districts do not have a “slush” fund, rather a reserve fund to handle emergencies such as rising fuel costs.
Parents at Friday’s press event were not entirely sold on the “FAIR” plan.
“We're parents and we're taxpayers,” says Tammy Gurowski, a parent in Webster.
“The whole thing I think had a negative tone,” says Will Weidman, a parent and business owner in Webster.
“When you're threatening taxpayers and saying you're going to lose sales tax funding, you're going to raise property taxes when you aren't using all the money that you are getting, I don't think that's responsible.”
Despite the answers, parents in attendance still were not entirely sold on the FAIR plan, citing concerns over the way it was passed in the
“I'm almost more mad at the process than the result,” says Weidman.
“The entire process where this legislation was passed in 90 minutes was certainly not democratic so we don't support the process, we don't support the increase, we don't support that money being taken from the schools who have waited a long time,” says Gurowski.
The location of Friday’s event also caused a stir; Brooks chose
“I’ve got to say, it was an aggressive press conference and um, I kind of feel like there's a little political posturing going on with the location of the event so that disappoints me a little, I'm a big fan of bipartisanship,” says Linda Weidman, a parent of two children in the Webster school district.