Friday, April 10, 2009

Email Circulates To Dip Into City’s Rainy Day Fund

Below is a email that is circulating urging editorial and blog comments in an effort to pressure City Council to dip into the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund. The email wants City Council to authorize an additional $2 million of funding to Roanoke City Schools. Councilman Court Rosen has called for dipping into it further funding the schools – see his blog.

Rosen responded in an email when asked what part if any he had in this call to action by Hank Bostwick and Adam Boitnott, Chair of the Roanoke City Republican Committee writing that “I have no involvement with he or Adam Boitnott on this and will not become involved in their ‘call to action’.”  A  resolution was passed by the Roanke City Republicans at their April 7th meeting.

Rosen responded further when asked whether he would risk a bond rating downgrade as cautioned by the Director of Finance should the City take this risk. Rosen’s email reply is here:

I agree with Ann [Director of Finance] that this may cause a downgrade (if we were to borrow 20 million the downgrade would cost us between 50k and 60k per year in interest – if we borrow 20 million).

I agree with Ann that we have too little money in the bsf[Budget Stabilization Fund] and that we should have been putting more away. I hope if nothing else we learn that we need to have more money saved away and hope we can insert a line item in future budgets that directs a certain amount to the bsf each year up to a certain limit.

I believe that we should take a small portion out of the fund to aid the schools (summer school, some middle school teachers, pre-k all have been cut or eliminated significantly) as well as certain city services. That is the intention of the fund and I don’t believe that taxpayers would expect their money to sit and serve as collateral for a loan when schools and certain city services are needed. It is not the city’s savings account. It is previously paid taxpayer money.

THE EMAIL CIRCULATING calling for action:

Roanoke’s Neighborhood Organizations:

A truly bipartisan effort is underway in the Star City.  This isn’t about politics.  It isn’t about criticizing the efforts of our part-time Council men and women.  It is about making a lasting investment in our City School System.

We are down right now (did you know our graduation rate is lower the state-wide graduation rate for homeless students?), but not out.

While we face tightening budgets and dwindling revenue projections, now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we don’t have the means available to us RIGHT NOW to make a down-payment on the future.

Democratic City Council member Court Rosen has called for opening the Rainy Day Fund to Roanoke City Schools.

The Roanoke City Republican Committee passed a resolution and submitted it to City Council asking Council to take $2 million from the stabilization or so-called rainy day fund (RDF) to increase funding levels to City schools rather than layoff employees.

Our political web forum and local news engine Star City Harbinger (SCH) ran a poll where 84% of the people were in favor of this action.

Rocky Mount’s mayor has asked his County Administrator to consider using the County’s $17 million reserve to help County schools!  Why won’t our Mayor?

I would urge you to write editorials to this effect to the Roanoke Times and e-mail City Council. Also please leave comments on local blogs like Star City Harbinger and the Roanoke Times Round Table.

Thank you for your help with this crucial issue!

Hank Bostwick

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Education, Roanoke City Public Schools

Tags: ,

Comments (6)

Hank Bostwick

April 11th, 2009 at 8:48 AM    

Thanks for helping us spread the word, Valerie!

Of course, you understand Mr. Rosen has to follow the normal channels to convince his fellow Council members about the importance of fully funding education, particularly in the darkest times of our economy and cannot as a sitting member of Council engage in lobbying the body he serves.

His willingness to clarify that a small use of the RDF will prevent us from backsliding on the progress we’ve made in past 12 months in our City schools.

Both Bill McClure and myself petitioned Council for a modest increase in the meal tax to fix the long-term financing problems.

Folks in Roanoke (including you) seemed to overwhelming reject that modest increase (see your “No New Taxes” post, so in an effort to continue the dialogue on the most important contributing factor to the health of our City, we went back to the drawing board to find another way.

Whether the political will exists to truly help our schools remains to be seen, but someone has to try.

Adam and I thought emphasizing the bipartisan nature of our proposal might convince Roanokers of the seriousness of the resolution.

Thanks again for helping us spread the word!

Hank Bostwick

April 11th, 2009 at 8:50 AM    

Sorry . . . incomplete sentence:

His willingness to clarify that a small use of the RDF will prevent us from backsliding on the progress we’ve made in past 12 months in our City schools goes a long way toward defeating the argument that a small use of the RDF will not have a detrimental effect on our bond rating.

Hank Bostwick

April 11th, 2009 at 9:08 AM    

Goodness, Valerie. I just read your ticker tape . . . stating Court has “distanced himself from the call to action” is both misleading and disingenuous.

I see the point of this article now. Oh, I thought you were trying to get the word out, my bad.


April 11th, 2009 at 6:45 PM    

Sorry just getting back to your comments. If you read the post then Rosen’s email does “distance” himself from the “call to action” but no doubt he is supports the premise… it was my attempt at defusing rumblings that he instigated or was part of the email effort. Sorry if you see it differently.

As far as the “No New Taxes” well all I can say is that is an accurate headline from the conclusion of the budget discussions. I had not said one way or the other whether I thought a meals or lodging tax increase was appropriate. I certainly heard Trinkle being against it at the briefing as well as other restaurant owners who say the 10% meals tax surprises even New Yorkers.

Adam Boitnott

April 12th, 2009 at 8:20 PM    


Our schools need an investment and they need it now. We have the money and the time is right for this investment. At the end of the day education is the number 1 issue in Roanoke City and it is time to invest. We have a school board and a super that are doing a GREAT job it is time to give them all the tools they ask for.


April 12th, 2009 at 8:58 PM    


I had found $2.16 Mil back in this post:

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