Altoona’s numbers just don’t add up

A story in the Aug. 25 Mirror again has me scratching my head.

In talking about financing the proposed new high school, Altoona Superintendent Charles Prijatelj states that by increasing revenues (read taxes) by $200,000 each year for 10 years, the district would have enough money to ride out the $2.9 million annual bond payment and pay off the project in 30 years.

So are we to believe that $200,000 times 10 equals $2.9 million?

While we’re on the subject of suspect math, let us also look at what the AASD is calling a $7.5 million deficit this year.

That’s certainly a huge and troubling number, and it’s without adding the cost of a new school, but the reality is even worse.

They are not counting an additional $2.2 million deficit that is being covered by the general fund because it was earmarked for debt service prior to this year.

That doesn’t change the fact that there is $104.4 million going out this year and only $94.7 million actually coming in this year.

The entire $9.7 million shortfall will still have to come out of the general fund.

There is no reason to think this amount of deficit will be less in coming years, and the general fund only has enough money to cover it for about four more years — unless, of course, $25 million is withdrawn as a down payment on the new school as is currently planned.

Then the general fund can only fully cover the deficit for one more year.

When the general fund cannot cover the shortage, taxes will have to skyrocket to roughly double what they are now, maybe more if we’re also paying for a new school.

What the school board is doing is like a couple looking over their finances and realizing they can’t possibly pay all their bills, then deciding to buy a new car anyway.

Michael Boston

Altoona

COMMENTS