I now know why our School District needs to pay high priced consultants!

By Sandra Ellis, March 8, 2012
Summary and Disappointing Outcome of Communications with Geneva School Board

QUESTION asked at School Board meeting of February 13, 2012 by Sandra Elis.

"After being present at the special Board meeting last week and seeing the significant tax increases that will happen not only this year but for many years down the road, I am one of many homeowners who need to have accurate projections NOW so we can make major decisions as to whether we can continue living in this community.

The writing is on the wall, for-sale signs are beginning to sprout..even earlier than the spring daffodils.

Last week, the Board presented the figures of projected tax increases this year for an average home of $288,000 being about $280. Looking at the numbers presented, it is my estimated guess that this will probably be the smallest increase we will see over the next 10 years assuming the Board negotiates a no-increase teacher contract this Spring and continues at their present pace of paying down the debt incurred from building new schools some of which are only partially occupied.

Could Ms Oberg (Assistant Superintendent-Business Services, CUSD 304)  take the same figures and do a very simple projection for the same home for the next 5 and 10 years similar to what was done last week? Perhaps with a realistic assumption of what you will continue to draw from reserves? As homeowners, we badly need the real facts now, so some of us can decide if we can deal with these increases on fixed incomes or must take action to stop the bleeding now."

The verbal response at that meeting from the Board was essentially "no, it is too complex to do, and a 10 year projection would not be useful".  After the meeting, some Board members tried to impress upon me how there are too many variables (school contracts being negotiated, CPI index variable, etc.) to make a projection.  Yes, that is a bit more complicated than our own personal budget forecasting of how to meet our future expenses based on our fixed or variable incomes, but certainly not impossible. 

It was especially troubling to think that the people at the helm of managing 70% of our property taxes find it too difficult to project what their debt repayment and costs of running our schools will cost taxpayers even in the next 5 years?  Ms. Oberg did offer to meet individually with me to explain the complexities of arriving at a projection but that isn't what I needed.  I needed a realistic projection.  I understand there are some variables that may change.

Prior to the beginning of the February 27 School Board meeting, Ms. Oberg nicely approached me and said she thought I was going to call her.  I explained that I felt it would not be useful.  She then explained that she couldn't do a ten year projection but she could do a five-year projection and have it to me by end of the week.  I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to see that Ms. Oberg seemed very sincere about providing the information that would be helpful based on her best guess.

On Friday, March 2, Ms. Oberg sent me an email  that is included with the 3 attachments.  If this is what Ms. Oberg seriously thinks is a good response to a request for a 5-year projection of what taxpayers can expect, then there is something seriously wrong.  If anyone is able to come up with a five year projection based on these well thought out attachments, please share with us.  Who knows, you may be hired as the next Consultant?

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