Saturday, December 15, 2007

This ought to get some comments! The truth about School Districts and teacher's salaries...the biggest part of all our taxes.

Watch "Take 2" with Rod Decker tomorrow at 1100AM. Decker will try to BBQ Senator Curtis Bramble over school funding issues, vouchers and property taxes, among other things. Senator Curtis Bramble is expected to introduce a bill later this year which would go to the public for an up or down vote to bring Utah "teachers" up to the National Salary standard. It would involve raising property taxes by 70% and our income taxes by 42%. How do you like them apples? It is a necessary and brilliant tactic to elevate public understanding of the public school teacher's salary situation. Actually they are the highest paid teachers in the Western States.

Since our own Weber County chooses to behave like white trash and with hold salary information providing only hourly rates, much like Huntsville. I will use a more honest and straightforward County (Davis) which understands transparency in governance.

The median "teacher" in Davis County (after going down a list of some almost 300 administrators who are paid handsomely, with the first 11 getting from $157,428 to $99,985 BEFORE benefits) you come to the first teacher at $60,665. Normalized, the teacher is actually getting paid 1.4 X $60,665 or $84,931 for 186 days of work. ($456.62/day) Normalized to a yearly basis (234 work days minus 186 equals 48 X $456.62 = $21,917 + $84,931 = $106,848.76 a year. And that is conservative by making the assumption that teacher benefits are only worth about 40% more. We pay 30% of their salaries into their retirement funds for example. They invest the 30% we provide so in reality we pay 100% of their retirement since the interest and dividends earned is income we sacrificed (see Ut. Taxpayer Assoc.) Medical, Dental, stipends, and other perks are very likely considerably more dollars.

Now for the average Davis County "poor little ole teacher". How much is she/he actually being paid? The Mean, Median, and Mode for the 1708th Davis County teacher is $50,060. Times 1.4 (conservative estimate of benefits paid by us taxpayers = $70,085 which comes to $376.80/day which equals 48 X $376.80 = $18,086 + $70,085 = $88,171 a year. And they get three months off in the summer. Unless they want a furlough which is a fully paid two year off deal so they can goof off or go for an advanced degree on us usually.

What about that lowest of the low? The bottom of the Davis Co. salaried teachers, the new beans or entry level teacher? $30,183 salary X 1.4 = $42,256 which is $227.18 a day which equals 48 X $227.18 = $10,905 + 42,256 = $53,161.

Now excuse ME! But I don't think Electrical Engineers (EEs) in Engineering get offers in major industry right out of college to be paid at a rate of $53,161 a year with three months vacation in the summer. And I know for a dead certain fact that they do not get retirement benefits (nor does the military or the Govt. Civil Servants for that matter) anywhere near what the teachers are being allowed/paid at our expense. And I guarantee no EE, even with a Masters degree or a Doctorate degree, gets UEA days, holidays, teacher's days, and all regular holidays off in addition to the three months off a year. And EE's don't get paid assistants to do everything our generation tends to think teacher's still do either.

So add the $2,000 raises and $5,000 all means! Governor Huntsman kneel to the UEA Union, shuck up to incompetence in forgiveness for your voucher support, chasing some magic salary figure without any real accountability coming from that public school sector. Let them spend our money on banquets, balloons, and BS; on administrators who are both unnecessary and overpaid, on paid playground supervisors, paid reading coaches, paid students to grade papers, for ... well you should get the idea... This is not the same Public School System that we grew up with. It is one thoroughly out of control with no reigns in any of our legislator's or Governor's hands.

Let this continue without the guts to legislate a maximum of five (5) dependents claimable on State "Education Tax" returns and the UEA Union will continue to grind us all into the dirt. School Districts have already taken over critical State decisions from the legislature and local governments. Soon the top UEA Union person will be the real Governor of Utah and the legislators will all be public school administrators/teachers and the transition will be complete. Our taxes whether sales, education (Income), or property taxes will know no limits. The schools will empty because no one but the teacher's union membership will be able to live here and they will be in charge of educating only their own kids in empty mansion marbled showcase compounds.

At some point you guys in the legislature gotta get a shot of testosterone and stand up to these smiling crooks and send them packing. The best way is five (5) count'em only five dependents per family. Phase it in over several years but do it. It is the root cause and you know it.

OK all you PTA propagandized and teacher union folks, Mormon and Catholic large family advocates tell me where I'm wrong...

Minor Machman or D-Bell


ozboy said...

How about "normalizing" this long laborious explanation of teacher's salaries for us'n products of the Utah education system. In other words, please break this down and explain it so it can be understood. On the face it looks rather alarming and seems like something the common citizen ought to be aware of.

If a tax revolt of any kind is ever going to happen in Utah, like it desperately needs to, then the leaders like you need to learn how to communicate these concepts in plain simple English.

Minor Machman said...

Thanks Ozboy! I needed that! Try this:
(a) Public School teaching days = 186.
(b) Average Davis Co. teacher salary = $50,060 (for 186 days)
(c) Add "benefits package" conservatively estimated at another 40% of base annual salary or (1.40 times 50,060) = $70,085 in actual salary.
(d) Divide 70,085 by 186 teaching days = $376.80 a day
(e) Number of working days per year after weekends and holidays is 234 so multiply 234 times $376.80 and you get $88,171.20 in the actual amount of money (very conservatively) we are paying the average teacher in Davis County. Hence, "normalized", "a) to bring to the natural, or usual, state b) to bring into conformity with a standard pattern, model, etc." Any teacher salary has to include value for more than three months off, contribution to retirement funds, cell phone allowances, stipends paid, paid sick time, medical benefits, dental benefits, vision benefits, and so on.

How's that? Any better? As you should see I was actually low on the average (mean, median, mode are statistical terms which center around basically an arithemitic average with some differences)Davis Co. teacher's "normalized" salary, meaning brought up to a full year and with significantly higher and better benefits than the "average bear".

Sorry, I get carried away trying to explain complex problems. I know people want 5 second sound bites.

PS I didn't know I was a "leader" Ozboy. Just a concerned citizen. Please continue to "keep me honest and help me be clear..."

webmaster said...

Utah Educators:

1) My mother had to volunteer 5 years at Chapter One, teaching elementary children to read in order to get part time secretary work at Alpine School District. After those 5 years, she was finally paid for her work. After another 5 years of being promised 'full time' work (including a pension), she was repeatedly asked by the Principals (2 over the years) to voluntarily give up the 'full time' position in order to get the chronically underfunded school more, much-needed secretary help (office administration). End result: 10 years of work with little/no retirement benefits. After 10 years of work, she finally gained what she was promised. Nothing retroactive. After 10 years, she can finally begin accruing pension benefits.

2) My mother in law. Career Utah teacher. Severely disabled. Lives in a trailer park. 30+ years teaching. Very financially conservative. No biological children (adopted 2). Nearly bankrupt, with huge debt. Many medical bills. NOT well insured through Weber County's school district. Not well compensated for her work. May need to medically retire. Will not be paid for retirement.

Kindly ensure that your facts are 100% correct.

Webmaster said...

It's 2007, and both my mother & mother-in-law's salary...when combined together, will finally break $63,000. That's combined. For 2 educators in Utah. Today.

Webmaster said...

Oops! $73,000 combined. My bad. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your mother volunteered for five years with a "verbal promise only" to get full time secretary job, was lied to by unethical principal(s), got part time paid job, spent another five years as part to full time secretary and now is a teacher wihtout any or little back pay or work credits toward retirement? Very sad story.

And mother-in-law who taught for 30 years either elected not to contribute to her own retirement (probably due to being grossly underpaid in the Utah public school system for many years) or selected the minumum amount if an option was given in order to make ends meet. Our hearts go out to such dedicated and honorable teachers, mothers and parents. And surely the $2,000,000,000 of "new money" pumped into the Utah public school system in the last two years should be distributed fairly to help her out...assuming the multitude of highly paid "Administrators" don't misuse all that money. As Union members they must have a say in it at meetings.

Webmaster said...

Perhaps I can contribute something positive...another perspective. Here's a hypothesis...

Where did the current increase of Weber taxes come from? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Example: For years, upon military retirement, veterans were promised health care for life. As many know, due to increased costs, the military services balked & refused to pay. The costs had increased.

Due to intense lobbying, Congress acted. Veterans health care for retirees was restored.

In 2003, the Air Force Group (works with Air Staff etc, budgeting) had to re-budget. All programs that normally would be funded were dropped...and then one-by-one scruitinized & possibly funded. Google: KC-135 IIRP. In 2006, the acting SECAF decided that 'new planes' were more important than the current number of Company Grade Officers. Today, 1/3 of the line CGO's are no longer with the AF. Key issue here: budgeting.

Earl Holding, owner of Sinclair Oil, Snowbasin & Sun Valley Ski Resorts, finished the $Millions in upgrades to Snowbasin in time for hosting the Olympics. After the Olympics were completed, he decided that Snowbasin was overvalued, as assessed by Weber County. He contested the taxes with the County. Same time frame...2002-2004. It went to court. In appeals, he won again. Weber County had to Repay $500,000 in taxes to Earl's company.

Unfortunately, Weber County had already spent said taxes. And it had not budgeted correctly for the decreased Snowbasin tax revenue. The taxes had to come from somewhere. Raising taxes requires some voter input. The County can't stop funding costly programs such as healthcare, education. Solution? Increase home values & raise the tax base. $500,000 tax shortfall restored.

Key issue: Budgeting again.

That's just a hypothesis, gentlemen...thoughts?

ozboy said...

Yo FastMan

Thanks for the explanation. It made it a lot easier to wrap my little Weber County School district educated brain around the concept.

Concerning the last statement in the post above: "Solution? Increase home values & raise the tax base. $500,000 tax shortfall restored."

Perhaps you could explain how this washes with the so called truth in taxation BS that is supposed to keep taxing entities from benefiting from increases in individual property tax re-evaluations.

It seems to me that this is a farce of the first order.

I live in Davis County. My property taxes went up 120% in the last two years. Every one I talk to about this in Davis County had their property taxes go up anywhere from 10% to over 100%. I have found no one who had their property taxes go down in Davis County.

If this law truly existed in Utah then it is logical that there would be as many people who's property taxes went down as went up (at least in total dollar amount over the county).

Am I missing something here? Does any one in Weber County know of any one who's taxes actually went down to balance out these huge increases in Ogden Valley? Are we all being bamboozaled by these hustlers in the state legislature?

Minor Machman said...

Lots I could say, but bottom line is TNT is dead...a lie. As you probably know ours in Ogden Valley, and specifically Huntsville, went up (taxable values) an average of 114% and our actual taxes increased an average 92%, while those on the West side of the mountains "only increased in the 10 to 20% range". So no. The actual taxes only increased yet the tax rate for Huntsville for example was actually decreased by 3% in 2006 and 13% in 2007. TNT and the legal balance you mention is true only in theory. In practice everyone's taxes increase as you mentioned because of new growth not being included in "allowable revenue" increases. But primarily because we are being taxed on speculative unrealized capital gains on our homes and properties. I know higher math and logic again...and the truth is also that TNT is so difficlut to understand even local governments (read County Assessors and Auditors and Commissioners) do not understand it. It is supposed to be "revenue neutral" requiring a certified tax rate to increase or decrease for neutrality of revenue flows, as you suggest. But in practice, Commissioners often think in terms of rates instead of revenue. And therefore make outrageous claims that "We did it without increasing taxes (meaning they can claim they actually decreased the tax rate) while they sent the assessors out to raise the hell out of our property market values so high that the "taxable values (after the 45% residential discount is taken)" are in fact the "market values or in many many instances much higher". That is when we hear people yelling they can't sell their property for what the assessor has appraised it for. The end result is MAJOR windfalls for the County General Funds, and all the other 15 to 17 "Taxing entities" which leech onto the County collection train. Especially the School District and School bonding issues which comprise between 55 to 75% (depending on whcih County you live in) of our property tax bills.

With the windfalls in property taxes comes County Budget surplus' which they quickly rename "account positive balances", becasue they have not been ear-marked or allocated for future spending yet. It takes them a couple of days to do and quickly decide to give all County employees 9.1% raises, spend 2 Million on even newer vehicles, reallocate RAP money to Library funds, and on and on so that within a couple of days the 37 Million dollars collected by the County is suddenly no longer a "surplus'" but earmarked "future spending" in accordance with State Code/law. State law requires that Counties can not have more than 20% of last year's revenue plus new growth, in their General Funds. Ex: if previous year budget is $100 Million and new growth is $30 million then allowable revenue is $130 Million, but another 20% of $130 Million (130 Million X .20 = 26 Million added to $130 Million = $156 Million) is now suddenly $156 Million. So they target last year's revenue, estimate new growth and add it together, and then multiply by 20% and that is their budget goal in December for next year. That is the amount they send the assessor out to get between January thru May when assessments are due. And by God they go get it too!! so that every year we pay more and more and more. Quick course in County and State Tax reality, although they will dispute and deny, deny, deny it to the death. And the State Tax Commission - supposedly our citizen watchdog, our advocates? Cooperative and user friendly to a fault too the county assessors, auditors, and commissioners.

But Funny thing? Last year Weber County raped, err I mean, raised property taxes such that revenues were 119% of the year previous, and this year I'll be darn if it wasn't 119% of the previous year again. Quite the coincidence wouldn't you say?

Whether ignornat, stupid or Daraconian skuzbuckets I don't really know. I do know that they really do not have any excuse since several legislators are CPAs and most Auditors are also. I can not for the life of me understand why the legislature doesn't just call all the assessors and auditors in for a week long work session and recalibrate the suspense dates when things come due with common sense and adjust the process and procedures. We could do it in a two days! Yet the bureaucracy seems stimied by itself with cooks and bakers and candlestick makers confused and trying to go along to get along politically I guess. Cris Poulsen, the Assessor in Utah Co. for example is birght as are many and they understand what should be done but the legislature seems lost in a fog of junior league thinking.

We are in fact being bamboozled by these people in the County and State Legislature, most of which are controlled over the past 7 years by the Utah Realtor's Association lobby. They are by far the most wealthy and influential group (UEA Union is a distant second) of near-do-wells (Kyle, CEO, Kohler, SLC Realtors Assoc. Pres., and your neighbor Ostermiller, in Layton head of Northern Utah Realtors lobby groups. Send an email address (anyone) and I will send you all the information on that nefarious and self serving group and what it has effectively done to all the citizens of Utah and how they are doing it. All the while claiming to be "for private property rights, affordable housing and lower property taxes." see I have even memorized their line of BS and propaganda, I have heard it so often repeated.

ozboy said...


Well said. It occurs to me that what you wrote is the core of the message that needs to be carried to every voting, taxpaying, property owner in Utah, as well as every legislator.

The legislators are not really going to do squat toward a permanent and just fix of this mess unless the voters lean on them big time. In my opinion most of legislators are a pack of mealy mouthed dicks. I know a half a dozen or so, and there is only one I would actually trust.

Voters in general are relatively uninformed about the true modus operandi of City, County and State Governments, and aren't likely to exert any pressure unless and until they get educated to the basics as described above.

That ainta gonna happen until us guys at the factory understand it as well as you'ze smart and educated jet jockeys do. The message has to be crafted for us masses, or as you call it in "5 second sound bites".

Like it or not, that is the democracy we live in. The key to any populist movement is communicating (or rabble rousing as the city manager in my town sees it!).

There are some incredibly long and detailed stories that get told in series of 5 second sound bites. The reality is that you really get unlimited time and attention from the hoi polloi if the message is crafted in a pretty simple and interesting way, and delivered in small doses.

Ya gotta market your message, sir, if ya want us enlisted men and women to buy it. It also has to be explained in a way that we feel really good about it when we do "get it".

Seems like I remember something from my military sojourn about KISS. Keepin it simple. That is why the advertising world targets every thing toward the average 8th grade level of comprehension and awareness.

Minor Machman said...

Yo Ozboy. Your self effacing comments aside, I have always found people, regardless of formal education, far more intuitive and smart than those they select for public service. I will continue to attempt to get the message out but only so far as you and everyone else, far brighter than me, is willing to help out.

Funny thing happens with this blog stuff. Most of us think "Well, there I said it. That should be enough. Someone else needs to pickup the ball and run with it." But truth is... this is a near total cop out. A very senior Utah Senator said recently, "You have to realize that there is one maybe two generations out there (in Utah) who are near totally retarded about government and how it is supposed to work. They have apparently never been taught about their responsibilities to attend public meetings and voice their opinions, vote, and participate in government."

We all have to attend meetings, write letters to editors, send messages, vote and call legislators. And yes, Thoreau's (On Civil Disobedience)"men of conscience" will need to act for change when the time is right.
"The authority of still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. .... There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly." These words from Thoreau speak volumes at 170 decibels to me.

Let's join forces and fight for changes in the tax code, ethics reform, and for accountability from a culture modeled and shaped by secrets and vague notions of what open and transparent public service truly is. The State can not have powers over me and my property except for what I concede to it. Conceding the right keep secrets and to tax speculative unrealized capital gains on my home because some crazy out-of-stater moved within two miles and paid three prices for his house is absurd and one of many wrongs in our tax code. I will not concede this power to the state. Will you? Will any of you who read this? Simple enough?

Join me in the fight for fairness and what is right for all Utahans. I humbly ask...please. D-Bell