Budgets, Levies, & Debt

Why Can't We FREEZE the Levy for 2012?

Sandra Ellis
November 27, 2012 

Over the last several weeks, the board and administration has given the impression that if they approve a 1.5% tax levy, they will need to make $901,500* in budgets cuts. The reality is that if they approve a 1.5% tax levy, they will receive $2,146,254 more than last year.

 If you are scratching your head saying that can’t be true, read on and review the district’s own numbers. For a quick synopsis, click on the image.

Using the district’s own numbers and projections, it is clear that the $901,500 has nothing to do with next year’s budget and it certainly isn’t a cut  (see the last page of the embedded document). Then, what is it? It is the difference from what would be received at a 3% levy vs. a 1.5% levy. So, if the board approves a 1.5% levy, then it will get $901,500* less revenue than if they had requested a 3% tax levy increase? It’s a meaningless number. It does not represent any cuts in spending. And, the board hasn’t even started creating a budget for the 2013-14 school year? That doesn’t get done until next summer.

According to the district’s projections, a 1.5% tax levy would generate $63,425,131 in revenue. In the current school year (2012-13) the revenue is expected to be $61,278,877. So a 1.5% levy generates $2,146,254 more revenue. Even a 0% tax levy increase generates $1,208,754 more than this year. Not only that, look at the following:

  • This year the education fund has a $3 million reserve.
  • The transportation fund has a $4,178,318 overspend due to a two-year bus lease expense, which will not happen next year.
  • The operations and maintenance fund has a $2,359,798 overspend because of installing the football field and technology purchases. The football field expense is a one-time expense that won’t happen again for 10-12 years. Any technology spending for next year can be delayed.
  • Based on the above facts, the district should not need as much revenue as they received this year. Yet they are requesting an increase of $2,146,254. Why? They haven’t discussed how this additional revenue will be spent. Will it just be added to the already out of control reserve fund?

The tentative budget for 2012-2013 shows that we should have $53 million in reserves as of June 30, 2013. That equates to 68% of the district’s operating expenses. The district’s policy states that reserves should be 31% of operating expenses. It is time the board starts spending the reserves instead of increasing them. Why can’t the same exact dollar amount received this year be levied for next year? The reserve fund would cover any possible shortfall. This would mean that the board taxes to the minimum instead of taxing in excess and requires a change of mindset for the board. It’s up to the community to communicate to the board that they’d like to see a halt to tax levy increases and see some real reductions in expenses.

The tax levy will be voted on at the Dec. 10 Board of Education meeting. If you agree that the board should not receive more revenue than last year, you have two options:

  1. Email the board at board@geneva304.org and tell them to levy the same exact dollar amount as received for the 2012-13 school year. FREEZE to this year's dollar amount.
  2. Attend and speak at the Dec. 10 meeting at the Coultrap facility, which starts at 7 pm.

Waiting till May 1, 2013 when you will receive your property tax bill is too late. Action must be taken before December 10th.

We deserve a break today! Start spending the $53 million in reserves before increasing the tax levy. FREEZE the levy!

*This figure is taken from the Tax Levy Presentation by Donna Oberg to the school board on 11/12/2012. Last evening (November 26, 2012), the board supplied a different handout that indicated the number is $929,433. My comments above are based on earlier data supplied by the board.

Attachments:
Download this file (tax levy.pdf)tax levy.pdf
Parent Category: ROOT