by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved final calculations for the 2010 tax levy with a vote of 7-0, though feelings of dissatisfaction with the levy were voiced by Board member Deborah Grant and at least two residents in attendance.
The 2010 tax levy presents an increase of 5.46 percent over operating fund taxes that were extended last year, and a bond and interest fund tax decrease of .74 percent. However, these figures will not be concrete until the tax appeal process ends in March or April 2011.
“The reality is Kaneland School District is funded primarily by property tax dollars,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “And if we don’t levy for those dollars in the way we’re encouraged to under the current system for school funding, all we’re doing is taking revenue out of the School District and needing to further reduce money available to provide teachers and services.”
The 2010 levy total is $46,783,395, with $31,457,820 of that estimate going toward the district’s education fund. The levy for operations and maintenance is $3,774,000.
Grant hesitated before voting in favor of the proposed tax levy, and sympathized with residents in attendance who spoke against the tax levy during the public comment section of the hearing, airing concerns that a tax raise is a “fix it now” solution that will ultimately deter community growth.
“I will approve (the tax levy), but I know that we really need to make a strong effort to communicate the fact that this money goes for those (school) programs,” Grant said. “This money allows us to continue to operate the district, but it does not address the deficit.”
However, Schuler said failure to levy funds would actually increase the School District’s deficit.
“I’m sympathetic (to residents), and I understand the personal impact that the property tax bill has on people, yet we certainly have to protect the interest of everybody and be able to provide a quality educational program,” he said. “It’s obvious that we face a deficit for next year, and we’re going to have to work with the board and address the deficit with spending restrictions and budget cuts.”
Schuler said the district is looking at a current deficit of about $1.8 million.
“I would anticipate that the board is going to need to have some serious conversation about how quickly they address that operating deficit in the budget, whether it’s done immediately for next year or done through a deficit-reduction plan,” he said.