On Wednesday evening the Oswego 308 school board will be discussing and plans to approve a tentative budget for fiscal year 2014.
Leading up to this meeting they have been debating several questions – what is the boards philosophy in cutting expenses?; Are there ways to increase revenue without increasing taxes?; Will the board support an increase in local taxes?
Board member and one of the leaders of the Finance and Advisory Committee Brent Lightfoot said the questions, specifically ways to increase revenue without increasing taxes, are not easy to answer.
“There was no smoking gun, no easy answer to that question,” he said from his discussions with the committee.
Ways to raise revenue have come back to average daily attendance, as the state pays per head.
Then there is the question of school fees. “What are those fees? Are they high enough?” asked Lightfoot. He said there was a diminishing return on fees where if they raised them too high it “might actually deter students from that opportunity.”
Last year’s tentative budget was first presented with a $5.5 million deficit.
Oswego resident and former Oswego 308 board president Lee Hoffer commented that in three years the tax rate for the Oswego school district has increased 45 percent. “I don’t think we can afford any more tax rate increases,” he addressed the board. “The school district is driving seniors out of their homes.”
In regards to the board’s philosophy in cutting expenses Hoffer said that that the board has complete control over expenses but not much control over revenue.
“You are responsible for the taxpayers,” said Hoffer. Hoffer said about 70 percent of district expenses are in salary and benefits. “If there is any change in reducing expenses, that’s where it’s going to have to come from.”
If you had a say, what options would you suggest the board consider for the new budget?
The board will meet at 7 p.m. at the Oswego East Community Room. The meeting will be live streamed – check back with Patch later in the day for a link.