Tuesday, March 07, 2006

182 billion reasons to vote "NO" on education referenda

182 billion reasons to vote "NO" on education referenda. The following letter to the editor appeared in the Daily Herald.
Why all should care about District 15

There are 182 billion reasons why taxpayers in Mundelein (and Peoria and East St Louis) need to care about salary increases at McHenry District 15. This is my answer to Tracy Simon’s letter of Feb 20 justifying 41 percent average salary increases for teachers in District 15 the last four years.

The 182 billion is the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be required to pay teachers pensions over the next 40 years. That’s according to Buck Consultants actuaries for the Teacher Retirement System.

That’s an average of $4.5 billion per year. And pensions are paid at the state level, not at the local referendum level. And since pensions are directly related to salaries, every increase in every school district affects every Illinois taxpayer.

The other issue is transparency or more correctly the absence of transparency. Why did it take someone outside of District 15 to bring up the point of 41 percent increase over four years? Why didn’t Ms. Simon and the school board mention this fact in 2001?

They should have said “We think our teachers are underpaid and we would like them to average 41 percent increases over the next four years, and we are going to tax you accordingly to pay for it.” Either the school board did not know 41 percent raises were in store, which is nonfeasance, or they decided that it was not important that the taxpayer be made aware of the magnitude of the increase, which is malfeasance.

Considering the lack of forthrightness by school boards and administrations in regard to previous referendums and bond issues (as reported by the Daily Herald), I would guess it is the latter. If they had notified the public and the public voted for it then I have no complaint.

Now the public does know, and let’s see what they say on March 21.

Bill Zettler


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