To The Daily Sun,
In response to Franklin Mayor Anthony Giunta’s July 10 letter:
Mayor Giunta recently discussed the “long evenings” the City Council faced while drafting the proposed 2018-2019 budget. This new draft provides more money to the Franklin School District. He describes it as “a highly scrutinized, efficient expenditure of hard-earned tax-payer dollars.” What he fails to mention is the reason Franklin faces this problem. A 65-35 percent split of tax revenue sends most tax-payer money to the city, leaving the school system with crumbs.
Funding Franklin schools is always a battle. Inevitably, the city’s 30-year-old tax cap becomes a topic. Some cry for it to be broken, others stand behind it. Mayor Giunta is one of its supporters. Keeping taxes stable will attract small businesses, of which he is a fierce advocate. Unfortunately, that means the school district is caught in a fight for political ground.
I agree the tax cap should not be broken. This is because it is not the problem. That lies in the disproportionate distribution of tax revenue. The 65-35 percent allotment has imposed annual school budget crises of close to $1 million on Franklin for the past three years. In those three years, the school district has been forced to cut one-eighth of its staff.
Those “long evenings” the mayor complains of feel even longer to the people who lose their jobs.
While I am grateful to hear that some money for the school district has been found, I also know it is a “band-aid solution.” The annual budget crisis will inevitably return next year. Correcting the tax revenue allotment provides a permanent fix. Franklin’s community should not have to beg for adequate school funding and be forced to settle with whatever the city can spare. This attitude creates a vicious circle that will carry on for years to come.
Since the Franklin City Council has turned school funding into a political game, consider this: The re-allocation of tax revenue would provide a fantastic example of bipartisanship. Changing the allotment will not raise the tax cap while also meeting community demand for better funding. This solution finds the root of the problem in a simple compromise.
Refusing to give voters what they want when a resolution is readily available makes a poor political strategy. It further demonstrates the detachment politicians have with their constituents and provides ample fire for anyone who would like to run against them. If Mayor Giunta and the Franklin City Council have no interest in defending education, perhaps they will find some interest in defending their political careers.