The District 58 School Board met Monday to fight with Scott O’Connell again. Oh, wait, they’re trying to figure out what tax rate they should charge on our real estate tax bills that provide their main chunk of revenue. Sorry, my bad; all they ever seem to do is listen to a couple kids fight. Plus they’re talking about housing market values going down as a reason to need more money, and that isn’t how it works; it’s EAV that counts and that went up 6%. Plus, they have a budget deficit this year with no plan in place to address that deficit, and no long range planning.
The good news just keeps coming…Starting out by figuring what rate they need to set (and they want the maximum increase on that rate BTW); that’s totally backwards to the taxing body budget process. Housing market values going down isn’t how it works either; it’s EAV that counts, and that went up 6%.
1. Figure out how much money you need for the fiscal year. That’s the levy.
2. Divide that into the EAV of the district. That EAV is set, and that information is provided by, the Township Assessor.
3. That gives you the rate.
Even if the rate stayed the same, their revenues would increase about 6%. Asking for the maximum increase in the rate first doesn’t make sense. How much money do you need? Did they come up with a hard figure for how much they need to operate 58 next year or not?
If 58 does not know, they need to figure it out before the current budget expires on June 30, 2009. Did they produce a proposed budget yet? The 11/10 Budget workshop didn’t have that on it’s agenda, and the 12/1 workshop has no agenda on line. There’s no clue how much money they will need (well there is, keep reading) so why are they talking about rate?
The 2008-2009 budget showed revenues of about $52 million and expenditures of about $56.8 million. The hole is in operations and maintainance to the tune of $4.2 million (see page 22 for the summary). On top of that there’s no future looking budget planning at all; see the following pages, they are all blank. If they’re doing it, it’s a well kept secret.
That’s a deficit that has to be addressed, and a lack of fiscal planning that has to start.
If Scott O’Connell has caused that $4.2 million budget hole, or single handedly prevented any fiscal long term planning by asking about 15 cent FOIA copies then hang him out to dry and get on with it, but it doesn’t seem like SO’s actions are of any consequence when stood up next to the bigger problems 58 is facing. And the school yard back and forth about whether or not he’s wasting everyone’s time wastes everyone’s time. Last time I checked board members are allowed comments, so do this: listen politely, and when he’s done thank him and move on. That has seemed to be impossible, up to and including holding special meetings to censure O’Connell, which didn’t do anything but waste even more time.
Tangential note: From what I read, 58 seems incapable of filling simple FOIA requests. Rather than dig in their heels every time Scott O’Connell asks for some information, just give him the keys to the file cabinet and let him go nuts. Quit making a big deal mountain out of this mole hill. Next…
Village staff put their shoulders to the stone and pushed out a 5 year budget projection in a couple months. It wasn’t easy, but they did it. Public Works pushed their projections even further out into the future so budgets can be effectively planned. Is it perfect? No, but it at least provides some clue as to where the village is going. Staff also combed the 09 budget a couple times so far looking for where they could save a couple bucks. They made some hard decisions and council is making some hard decisions.
Beyond ensuring good educations for our kids, the needs of the district are very similar to the needs of the village. They both have tangible property that needs maintaining and improving, they both have large personnel expenses, and spiraling costs of energy and health insurance. District 58 has to have a new budget in place by July 1, 2009. That’s six months away. As the Village flies, that’s time enough for a budget, a five year budget plan, and a five plus year capital projects plan. If we don’t have a school board willing to go there, and if we don’t have the staff willing to get us there, then maybe it’s time for wholesale change.
58 let a $4.6 million deficit slide this budget year. They didn’t hide it; right at the top of page one it says:
Unbalanced budget, however, a deficit reduction plan is not required at this time.
Okay, so if it’s not required for this current year, wouldn’t it be at least prudent to think about it for the coming years? Isn’t that a reason to look at trimming costs or increasing taxes? Where was that talk? Cunningham has had enough, and simply wants to move forward. That’s one. Do I hear a second?
Next guy that starts being a big meanie has to go sit in the corner. Quit bickering and get to work; that line seems to be forming behind Cunningham.