by Sandra Ellis
At the October 28, 2013, School Board meeting, a Geneva taxpayer, Dan Garrett, listened to the one-hour William Blair recommendations for addressing the mounting school board debt. Dan has over 30 years in municipal bond buying experience and asked the board members if he could present an additional option which could result in increased savings to taxpayers but was not included in the Blair options.
It is notable that the William Blair Company included a disclaimer in their presentation that they are not "acting as a municipal or financial advisor", that their financial interests will differ from ours (they are bond underwriters),
and that they cannot be responsible for the "accuracy and completeness" of the information in their presentation?
Subsequently, Mr. Garrett put together a simple, easy-to-follow presentation and offered to explain it to any school board member. (Click the link to see the 10 minute presentation.) He provided his electronic presentation to GenevaTaxFACTS, the Geneva Patch, and the Kane County Chronicle in advance of the November 11 board meeting so the community as well as board members would have an opportunity to ask questions. He personally presented it in advance to Dr. Kent Mutchler (Superintendent) and Donna Oberg (Ass't Superintendent for Business Services) as well as to two school board members who took him up on his offer to explain in detail.
At the November 11 meeting, the school board voted 6 for and 1 against to draft a resolution to increase the tax levy this year to 1%. This is projected to result in a little over a $300 increase (on a $315,000 home) in just the school portion of your property tax bill arriving May of 2014. The final vote to increase the levy will be at a board meeting on December 9, 2013. (If any members of the community wish to address this, the comments should be made in the first comment session rather than AFTER the final vote.)
So far, it appears that the board feels spending even $30 million from reserves (money received from several years of overtaxing and now earning about .2%) to buy back our own school bonds and thus receive the interest as other bondholders (estimated at 2 to 3% conservatively) would be too risky? Does everyone accept that answer from a board and administration that misstated enrollment figures for an $83 million referendum and refuses to explain the recent salary and options and interest-free car loan to Superintendent Mutchler? This plan appears solid and proposed by an expert who happens to live in Geneva and knows how bonds and schools work.
Proposing a solution that could save the district over $15 million in the next five years to help alleviate our mounting debt and increasing taxes should be a fifth option. If rejected, a reasonable explanation should follow. If not, then why would ANY taxpayer who has expertise in specific areas be willing to step up and propose a money saving idea?
And… we’re getting older, wiser, and better!
In our 5th year of growth, we are encouraging residents to attend board meetings of 5 taxing bodies.
We need the gift of your time to be effective! We need volunteers to attend one or two board meetings a year. Can you spare 3 hours a year to be involved?
If 40 people commit, no one will need to attend more than two meetings – and, you choose the board meeting/s and the dates. (A short summary of anything significant should follow as soon as possible. Most meetings rarely last beyond 90 minutes. ) Simply e-mail email@example.com with the meeting/s you can attend.
By the 2nd week of December, each board must vote on the tax levy for 2014—whether to increase, decrease or stay the same!
The website, www.genevataxfacts.org, NOW includes 2013 financial information for each of five taxing bodies-- a one-stop source of important taxing info!
Each taxing body meets according to the following schedule:
Geneva School District 304 – 2nd & 4th Mondays, 7 pm, Williamsburg Elementary School
Geneva Township – 3rd Thursday of month at 7 pm, Senior Center-Wheeler Park
Geneva Library – 4th Thursday of month at 7 pm at the Geneva Library
Geneva Park District - 3rd Monday of month at 7 pm at Sunset Community Center
City of Geneva – Committee-of-Whole/City Council, alternate Mondays, 7pm, City Hall
(Can also be viewed live on Comcast Channel 10 or City website)
GenevaTaxFACTS is pleased to welcome you to what we hope will become your destination site for information involving taxation in Geneva. This site is in the process of being expanded to contain factual information on all local taxing bodies excluding Kane County.
Our goal is to keep you informed on current decisions that will directly affect your property tax bill as well as provide a one stop source to ask questions, get answers, and provide your input on tax issues. You'll note after each article, there is a COMMENTS option to provide feedback or ask a question. The FORUM link is another way to provide your input..
We believe the key to taxpayer involvement is getting the FACTS in an unbiased format. Providing factual and unbiased information helps you make educated decisions about local issues and candidates who may be running for office. All elected officials, as well as administrators, are invited to sumbit information for posting. .