What can Geneva residents afford to pay the administration and teachers?

In keeping with the mission of GenevaTaxFACTS, in addition to this article you will find the following attachments.

1. A complete 4 Year Salary Analysis for every teacher and administrator for the 2007-08 through 2010-11 school years including cost of retirement enhancements and cost of benefits. (Individual names are not listed but can be found at the source website www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php)
2. The Step and Lane Matrix and Out Of Classroom Compensation guidelines.
3. A detailed Explanation Of Step and Lane Compensation
4. The Daily Herald interview responses from 2009 for four current board members entitled Four School Board Candidates Key Issues Have they done what they promised in terms of the managing the financial issues of the district and the teachers’ contract?
5. Response from Assistant Superintendent regarding 2011 question on teacher salary increases.

The review of the 2007-2011 salary information reveals the following FACTS

In the current school year, 88% of all teachers and administrators make more than $50,000 per year not including medical benefits. The salary ranges for administrators and teachers are: 

  • $100,000 plus                   58 individuals
  • $99,999 to 90,000           38 individuals
  • $89,999 to 70,000          136 individuals
  • $69,999 to 50,000          164 individuals

Those that are teaching in the 2011-2012 school year saw the following % increases in salary since the 2007-2008 school year:

  • Greater than 30% increase                            57 individuals
  • An increase of between 29.99 and 20%      50 individuals
  • An increase between 19.99 and 10%          145 individuals

56% of the teachers and administrators receive greater than a 9.99% increase over the last 4 years.

Out of the 450 tracked administrators and teachers with more than 2 years of service, 59.11% (266) received salary increases of more than $5,000 over the last 4 year period.

Employees do not contribute anything toward their medical benefits except the deductible and pay only 60% of the premiums for their family members.

The perfect storm of financial stress seems to be brewing for CUSD 304. Years of declining property values, looming debt payments and an expected new contract agreement with its teachers will challenge the school board and administration. State funding constraints and the concept of shifting teacher pension funding back to the school district, can only add more angst for homeowners and school officials. Illinois funding dollars for CUSD 304 are likely to become even less predictable based on the budget discussions coming from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.

Geneva and CUSD 304 are not alone in this convergence of financial stress. Nearby districts have already made or are making difficult choices of eliminating positions in order to bring the cost structure in line with the economic realities of the “new normal.” How will the school board and the administrators in Geneva balance these forces? A major piece of the puzzle will be the teacher contract currently under negotiation.

The great recession has not spared the property values for either the 994 commercial/manufacturing or the 9,838 residential real estate owners whose property taxes fund substantially all of the District’s costs. The 2011/2012 funding sources for Geneva CUSD 304 from Geneva Township includes: 90% Residential, 6% Commercial, 3% Industrial and 1% Farm Land.

Geneva residential real estate has been impacted across all neighborhoods and value ranges. Geneva’s “new normal” includes housing prices that have dropped between 10 – 40% since 2008, time on the market increases to over 12 months and short sales and foreclosures in every neighborhood. The formula used to calculate assessed value assures that it will be at least five years before assessments start to rise.

Residential real estate, while a much greater source of funding, is not the only segment impacted. The concerns about Geneva’s commercial property values were recently in the news as the Geneva Township Assessor was taken to task by City officials for making market-driven adjustments to several commercial properties in downtown Geneva. Township assessors now include listening to resident’s financial problems as part of their job requirements. Residents are making painful budget choices as property taxes continue to grow. The reality is the assessor has no input on the actual tax rate or the amount collected; taxes are based on the requested revenue of each taxing body plus repayment of debt. It’s still a confusing issue for many residents, and particularly our seniors.

Motivation for GenevaTaxFacts (GTF)

Geneva is filled with wonderful, intelligent residents who too often avoid the difficult conversations because they either don’t have the information, or they are fearful of offending fellow community members. GTF’s sole mission is to provide a forum where fact-based discussions about operating decisions of the various taxing bodies can be researched at one location. Some of these conversations will be difficult as they involve choices and priorities. Money is never an easy conversation, but shouldn’t we be teaching our children the importance of civic input and the importance of budgets? Our cost structures are unwieldy, and many of our school district board members agree. In fact, several were elected based on having a prudent approach to costs and spending. Geneva residents have had several painful years of unemployment, declining property values and increasing costs. The school district’s recent tax levy increase seems to have kicked the hornet’s nest for many residents. Interest in GenevaTaxFACTS.org continues to grow since its launch on January 30, 2012.