The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Timeline for approval of U-46 budget outlined
By Seth Hancock
The process of preparing the Fiscal Year 2017 budget in School District U-46 is in full swing as the Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution directing the administration to prepare a tentative budget at its meeting on Monday, March 7.
According to the timeline presented on Monday, Feb. 22, the board will have a Finance Committee meeting on May 16 and a tentative budget will be presented on June 20. The final budget is expected to be presented on Aug. 15, the public hearing on Sept. 12 and the board’s vote on Sept. 26.
Jeff King, chief Operations officer, said in response to a question from board member Cody Holt that “it will come back in front of the board in April” for discussion on priorities “because we really need to finish up staffing before we can figure out what leeway we have.”
King said that 94 to 95 percent of the budget is “already spoken for when you take into account salaries, benefits, lease and bond payments, capital expenditures and the rest of our fixed expenses like fuel, food costs. All of those things that fall under supplies and materials and some of those other categories.”
In December, the board was presented with scenarios including budgets with no levy, no levy and cuts in expenditures and with a levy.
For taxpayer Pete Dubin, he would like to see U-46 reign in its spending to alleviate the tax burden of property owners. Dubin lives in the retirement community Del Webb in Elgin, and he spoke during public comments on Feb. 22.
“You have to realize that the majority of us are done. Our human capital is over,” said Dubin of residents living on fixed incomes.
Dubin said that Del Webb has homes in two school districts, the U-46 homes seeing a 40 to 60 percent increase in the 2014 property tax bills paid in 2015. He said that taxes have increased between “$3,000 and $5,000 on an annual basis.”
Dubin said: “I have not seen, or heard, of anywhere a cut or a change in program that maybe would reduce costs, reduce expenses. I believe you have a responsibility to your taxpaying constituents, which we are part of, and right now many of our homes are becoming unaffordable for the people that are living on a very limited amount of income and are also becoming unsellable. You ought to be aware of that. People do not want to buy homes that have had between and 40 to 70 percent increase.”
Later that meeting, board member Phil Costello raised Dubin’s concerns when Dale Burnidge, director of Financial Operations, presented the district’s January financial report. That report showed that revenue to the district is up 10.96 percent from the previous year.
Burnidge noted that General State Aid is up 11.02 percent, but Costello pointed out “so are property taxes though” which were 5.99 percent higher.
Costello said: “That was an astronomical figure (Dubin) gave. What would be the reason for that?”
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said residents of Del Webb have addressed the issue with other taxing bodies and they were “double hit” by receiving higher property value assessments and the correction of a previous Kane County error hitting in that year.
“I think they were hit doubly hard this year,” Sanders said. “One was the reassessment done by the Kane County assessor’s office, so their property values were marked up higher. And then the second issue was that Kane County error that pushed taxes to DuPage (County) in one year all came back in a lump sum for a two-year error in one year.”
Burnidge said “their upcoming bill for this year should be lower, definitely lower than last year.”
Costello called that “a good insight” but “it’s incumbent on us, since we’re such a large part of the property tax dollar, to at least ask the Kane County representatives to go out there and explain it because it’s troubling when their pension payments are straight, everything else is static, except their property tax bill.”
Prior to the vote on the resolution the administration to prepare a budget, board member Jeanette Ward asked about the need for that vote.
Ward asked: “I’m curious why we need a motion to prepare the budget because aren’t we supposed to prepare a budget anyway?”
Both King and Sanders said “it’s a board policy,” and board member Sue Kerr asked for a clarification that “it’s board policy and not required by the state” which Sanders said it was only required by the board’s policy.
“It is one that we should reconsider the next time we do a board policy review,” Sanders said.