Remember those days of the past couple years when a line of
citizens from TaxFACTS would protest the spending practices of School District
Remember the meeting just a year ago, when a score of green-shirted teachers flooded the School Board meeting during the budget-hearing process to say they were dealt a "slap in the face" for working without a contract since Aug. 15 of 2012?
Ah, what a difference a year makes.
The Geneva School District 304 Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a $92 million budget Monday night with no less than three opportunities for public comment, and just one person stepped to the podium.
Dan Garrett, who ran for School Board in April but lost a chance for a seat by just 19 votes, said he'd like to help if the board wants to consider alternatives to tax abatement as a strategy to keep property tax increases as low as possible.
And that was about it.
Prior to the public hearing, School District 304 Assistant Superintendent for Finance Donna Oberg said the district expects about a $1 million surplus, which it will use to abate some of its debt services if the surplus holds.
"Surpluses really aren’t saving taxpayers any money," Garrett said. "Abatement doesn’t save any money."
And when Garrett was done speaking, the board voted 7-0 after a hearing that lasted all of 10 minutes from start to finish, passing the budget without a bang or a whimper.
Part of the reason for the relative quiet this year is that the angst of teacher-contract negotiations isn't present as a backdrop to the budget process. Another is that TaxFACTS has been notably absent during many recent School Board meetings.
A few minutes prior to the start of Monday night's meeting, Garrett said Bob McQuillan, a vocal TaxFACTS co-founder and 2012 Geneva mayoral candidate, had intended to be at the meeting but had to miss it for personal reasons. Garrett emphasized that he was speaking Monday night as a citizen and not as a TaxFACTS member.
Another possible reason that the budget hearing didn't draw a lot of Monday-night commentary is that there had been so many opportunities for public input prior to Sept. 23, 2013. Oberg had made presentations at two previous Finance Committee meetings as well as presentations to the full board on May 13, June 24 and July 22.
You can see a Powerpoint slide summary of the budget on the School District 304 website.
The budget was tweaked a bit since that summary, but the total projected 2013-14 revenues at that time were $92,615,089. Expenditures were estimated at $91,591,583, for a surplus of $1,023,506.
"As you know, a budget is a plan," Oberg told the board. "You don’t always spend what you have in it. You do the best you can, and you go forward with it."
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