To The Editor,
Wednesday's article by Michael Kitch "Tax Cap Blamed for Low Teacher Salaries" states at the end that, "Councilors did not respond to these statements." Actually, the council did make remarks about this subject plus other matters in the budget at a public hearing prior to the 7 p.m. meeting. However, no press attended and only two members of the public were there. I am therefore stating a couple of things including the graphs I presented at the meeting.
"School Board member claims tax cap is responsible for problems with schools."
He further goes on to talk about how low pay to school teachers is responsible for good teachers leaving for better paying jobs.
School salaries are a matter of public record and are put forward each March. I have had a copy of theses salaries each year and not wanting to be personal about their incomes, find that constant attacks on the City Council for not allowing the schools to pay more is hitting below the belt. Here is just a small sample of some of those salaries:
85 teachers or support group members earned over $60,000 this past year, and this does not include their health benefits. Thirty-seven were in the 60-70,000 dollar range 27 were in the 70 to 80,000 dollar range; 13 were in the 80 to 90,000 dollar range, four were in the 90 to 100,000 dollar range and four were above 100,000.00. There were also 41 who received in the 50 to 60,000 range. Yes, there are new younger teachers earning below this. We all start at the bottom and prove ourselves over the years.
A copy of these salaries is available at the City Hall. If the paper would like to publish them, I will gladly furnish them a copy.
A picture speaks a thousand words. Below are two graphs taken from the City's annual audit by Melanson and they are also available to the public. The first graph shows the percentage of tax money the schools receive in contrast to the other city departments. The second graph shows the declining student trends over the past 10 years.
Finally, as recently noted in the paper there is a disparity of wealth that exists in Belknap County, Belknap County being the highest in the state. We also know that our city has one of the highest rates of an aging population. They are not producers.
The City Council has worked very hard to live within the means of the entire city and under the tax cap have done many things to improve the city and are working to update infrastructure and bring vitality back to our downtown, the Weirs, and Lakeport. It is hard, but it is a work of love.
Councilor Ward 4
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