Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Concerned Lake Bluff Taxpayers, which includes John Marozsan, Ed Holstein, Neil Dahlmann, Bill Minor, Bob Troyer, and Dave McElvain. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy on Reader Forums.
Lake Bluff School Board Increases Expense Budget By $1M
By Concerned Lake Bluff Taxpayers
The Lake Bluff School District board has made available (only upon request) the details of its proposed budget for 2013. It increases the current level of total cash reserves from $14.7 million by another $1million, and adds $1 million, 9.1%, to last year’s Education Fund budgeted expenditures. Please visit our website for details, which include Budget Summary, Revenue/Enrollment trends, and Q&A response. http://www.lakebluffsd65financial.com
• At the same time, enrollment figures for the current school year have declined by 32 students from last year to a total onsite enrollment of 858. The resulting cost per student becomes $19,300, based upon a total operating budget of $16.8 million.
• Unless the board becomes convinced that the above figures are dramatically out of line, the budget revenue figure will become the basis for next year’s tax levy, and accordingly reflected in property tax increases once again.
• The proposed level of cash reserves, at $15.7 million, will become 3.5 times (350%) of the standard established by the state.
The Board’s expressed concerns regarding reserve needs are:
• Teacher retirement obligations might be transferred from the state to local school districts
• Federal and State reimbursements might be curtailed
• Property values might be reduced
An analysis of those exposures indicate that
1) Teacher pensions might add $1 million to expense,
2) Combined State and Federal would be less than $1 million if both happened, and
3) District-wide property valuation reductions have no effect on lowering tax revenue, i.e. the district can levy a property tax for whatever they choose, up to CPI constraints.
Worst case, if the sky falls, all of the above might add a $2 million exposure. The current cash reserves of $14.7 million = over seven times that worst case.
So what major study is needed to determine when enough is enough? The time to terminate the standard budget practice of increasing tax revenue and reserves year after year must end NOW, and a minimum of $1 million in revenue removed from the budget/levy. If not done now, the next opportunity is one year from now.
We urge you again to make your demands heard by the board. Many of you already have done that, and we can assure you that your collective messages are gaining attention. Please address the board at: SD65@lakebluffsd65financial.com, or to us at email@example.com.
And also, your attendance at the budget hearing meeting on September 25th, 6:30 PM Village Hall, will add greatly to the impact of our insistence on tax reduction.
John Marozsan, Ed Holstein, Neil Dahlmann, Bill Minor, Bob Troyer, and Dave McElvain