Stimulus dollars may help fund rezoning plan

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 7:16pm

Federal stimulus money likely will be used to help pay for Nashville’s new school district rezoning plan.

With budget cuts looming, leaders of Metro Nashville Public School are looking for ways to use federal stimulus dollars to relieve pressure on a tight operating budget for the next school year. The Mayor’s Office encouraged the district at yesterday’s budget hearing to use stimulus funds to such a purpose.

Director of Schools Jesse Register told Board of Education members this afternoon that stimulus funds can probably be used to fund at least part of the expenses created by implementation of the plan.

The plan includes a differentiated pay structure for some North Nashville schools serving large numbers of economically disadvantaged students, which will bring about an additional $1.3 million expense annually to give teachers at those schools 5 percent pay increases.

Stimulus money can probably be used to pay for this part of the plan, Register said. Once the 27-month stimulus funding period is complete, however, the expense will be back on the district.

“That’s the place we’d go first,” Register said. “It would be a budget obligation as soon as the stimulus runs out.”

School board member Ed Kindall, a vocal opponent of the rezoning plan at the time the board voted it into effect, said he doesn’t mind using stimulus dollars for rezoning as long as the district and board commit to continue funding the differentiated pay plan even after stimulus funds can no longer be used.

MNPS expects to spend more than $5.3 million, total, in additional resources for some schools affected by the rezoning plan, according to budget documents.

Metro officials have learned in the last two weeks that MNPS stands receive a total of $24.6 million in federal stimulus Title I dollars to be used specifically for students and schools meeting federal low-income guidelines, and more than $20 million in stimulus dollars Metro will receive through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which can be used only on services for students covered by the act.

MNPS will have a longer wait for Title I funds than most other Tennessee districts, due to years of being out of compliance with federal programs spending. Federal Title I dollars intended for Metro have been frozen since December due to non-compliant spending on the part of MNPS. Most money that will reach schools through the federal stimulus package will flow through Title I, and until Metro resolves its federal spending troubles, Title I stimulus money will be frozen along with the rest.

Though stimulus funds stand to help the district, there’s only so much the money can do to ease pressure on the district’s operating budget. Any stimulus dollars the district uses to fund recurring expenses will have to be replaced with local dollars after the two-year stimulus program is complete.

Compounding the need for budget cuts is increasing pressure on the school district’s reserve fund. Reserve dollars are non-recurring funds, but MNPS has in the past few years tapped the dollars to fund recurring expenses from the operating budget.

Sales tax revenue shortfalls this year have put pressure on officials both to cut expenditures and to use reserve dollars beyond the $19 million in reserve dollars originally approved for this school year’s budget. Board finance chair Steve Glover has estimated that by the end of this school year, the reserve fund balance could go down to $42 million.

Metro charter recommends that department reserve funds maintain balances equal to 5 percent of the total operating budget, which means MNPS would have another $11 million in reserve dollars to spend before reaching the $31 million minimum balance required by Metro government.

District officials have acknowledged the growing likelihood that $15 million in budget cuts for the next year — which includes the elimination of a net total of 209 school district staff positions — will have to take place. Board members are aiming to vote on the budget at a 1 p.m. meeting on Friday, April 24. The meeting will be held at the district’s central office, 2601 Bransford Ave.


4 Comments on this post:

By: shinestx on 4/15/09 at 7:14

Oh, but Id(iot), it has been the intent of the "stimulus" all along. Only the incurably naive thought (think) that the ARRA was meant to actually stimulate the economy. Go look at the so-called "payout" of this bill with the Dims in Congress did not read before they voted for.

Let's see if I can make this as simple as possible to understand: Big government gets bigger by printing and borrowing trillions of dollars. And of course, taxes are raised under the guise of getting even with the rich (People making over $100K in NY now pay over half their income in taxes!). Meanwhile, the wealth creators in the private sector are vilified and forced into submission by the bigger (bully) government. The populist bargain: companies too big to fail are saved in order to protect the jobs of the common worker. After the dust settles, the federal bullies can then put in their favorite patrons to "run" these companies. The only problem will be twofold: Rampant inflation that will choke off private investments and innovations that will weaken the economy in the mid to long-run; and of course, these companies will be "run" into the ground by politics and graf. How's the hope and change working out for ya?

Ta-Da! How'd I do?

By: shinestx on 4/15/09 at 9:15

You libs are either lazy or stupid (or both). Of course, you guys will defend high taxes (for others of course) with the ferocity of a jealous mother lion.

Just do a little research, and you'd learn something. But then, that would shine light on the failed policies you "feel so passionate about". You see, you can think, or you can feel. I can't help you with the latter.

New York State taxes:

On income...
From the NY state dept of revenue...
If your income range is between $100,001 and $500,000, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 7.375%.
If your income range is $500,001 and over, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 7.7%.

From the NYC dept of revenue...

... taxable income over 45,000 up to 90,000... $1455 plus 3.591% of excess over $45,000
... taxable income over 90,000.... $3071 plus 3.648% of excess over $90,000

Federal income taxe rates...
... taxable income between $164,400 and $357,700.... 33%
... taxable income over $357,700... 35%

So, let's do the math.
Right off the bat, the combined income tax rate for $100,000 is:
28% + 3.648 + 7.3 = 39%

Then, add county property taxes for NYC for a modest ($400,000!) home in Queens:
7,300, which is 7.3% of 100,000.
Then, assuming a typical market basket of goods and services for a family of 4 per year (of $35,000) at the city sales tax rate of 8.375% excluding some food items, they would pay aproximately $2800, or 2.8% of their income in sales taxes.

So let's add the 7.3% and 2.8% to the 39% above, and you are paying out 50.1% of your income in taxes.

The numbers take on a whole new meaning when you look at the total tax bill, huh? And this is barely a middle class existence in NYC.

And the DimLibs in charge of the state have raised virtually all these taxes listed above for 2009!! Everyone keeps talking about the rich being the ones who will leave the city/state. But common sense should tell you that the middle class will continue to flee. Already, NYC is a horrible (Liberal utopian) world of very rich people and very poor people. The middle class just passes through. Well, there will be fewer and fewer of those in the future.