Tuesday, August 29, 2006

East Side schools will ask for tax hike

The following story appeared in the Beacon News Newspaper. A fellow taxpayer from District 131 asked us to put this story on the CRAFT Blog.

Bruce Schurbert asked the school board members the following questions: "Why not impart a salary freeze?" and "Where is the deficit reduction plan?" Mr. Schurbert this referendum is about teachers, administrators and school employees salaries. Salary freezes when and if ever given in school districts are always repaid in later years with even larger salary increases. This is about greed and not need. The only interests the tax increase will serve is school employees and their bank accounts.

This same scenario is playing out around school districts across Illinois. Once referendum pass large salary increases always follow just ask voters in District 15 McHenry and District 158 in Huntley.

To view the District 131 salaries go to thechampion.org.

East Side schools will ask for tax hike

By Justina Wang
Staff writer

AURORA — The East Aurora School Board gave their approval Monday for a November referendum that will ask voters for a tax rate increase of 85 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

The hike, which will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $283 more in taxes the first year, is lower than earlier numbers proposed by administrators.

At a public forum this month, school officials presented four scenarios that would raise the tax rate by anywhere from 95 cents to $1.25 per $100 of assessed valuation and cost owners of a $100,000 home between $316 and $416 in the first year.

"We challenged the administration to come up with an even lower rate," Board Member Russell Pietrowiak said during Monday's meeting. "We have tried to come down and listen to people's concerns."

Several residents who attended Monday's meeting said they believe the district will still have a hard time passing a referendum in an area with many low-income families.

"The thing is, people here don't want to give you more money," resident Rayanne Carlson told Board members.

Carlson and another East side resident, Bruce Schubert, also questioned teacher and administrator salary increases, which make up large portions of the district's budget.

"Why not impart a salary freeze?" Schubert asked School Board members. "Where is the deficit reduction plan?"

School Board members responded that they cut dozens of positions in 2004, and that many of the larger pay raises were because of promotions to administrative positions. Board Vice President Dan Barreiro added that the district has to negotiate with teacher's unions and needs to offer a salary schedule that is competitive enough to attract top educators so that East Aurora will "stop being a training ground for other school districts" and "retain our best."

"We're being asked, I think, to look at making cuts, but we've made cuts and it's hard to make cuts when you have growth," Barreiro said. "We're going to have to ask voters to help us get over this hurdle."

School officials said a tax hike is needed to prevent a projected $21.9 million deficit by 2010, a year when a new state law requires all districts to have a balanced budget. The district's last operating fund rate increase passed in 1993.

If the referendum is successful, the new tax rate would be locked in for four years and would not be subject to tax caps. The hike would leave the district with a $15 million balance in all funds in the 2009-2010 school year.

East Aurora tax hike referendum

The district's proposed tax hike of .85 cent per $100 of equalized assessed valuation would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated:

• $283 in the first year

• $306 in 2007

• $332 in 2008

• $359 in 2009

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