Citizens For A Better Norwood

Thursday, November 09, 2006

10/26/06 BOE Finance Committee meeting re: levies

Sorting through the revenue confusion

Susan attended the meeting and reported she came away with more questions than answers about the revenues. Before we get to that, though, Ken Miracle, then Debi Gay, said early on they’re opposed to a new levy, despite the fact the approved 5-year forecast shows a $3.1 million deficit in ‘09. Scott Faulkner shares their view, so that means a majority agrees there’s ample time between now and then to cut expenditures, which, by the way, will be the topic of the next Finance Committee meeting.

Regarding renewal levies, Susan is about 97% sure Treasurer Rabe, who is prone to whispering, said a renewal levy generating $687,000 per year expires in ’07 and would go on an ‘08 ballot for renewal. He also mentioned a second renewal collecting $1,758,000 yearly, but she did not hear him ever clearly state what year it would go before voters. Mr. Rabe mentioned this second renewal levy would actually be $1.4 million, but he didn’t elaborate - at least, not that she could hear.

We called the Board of Elections to clear this up and get the facts. According to their records and the actual levy language, the following is accurate information:

1. On 5/7/02, a 5-year, emergency levy for 5.1 mills, collecting $1,758,000 per year passed. It expires in ’07 and must go on the ballot in ’07 in order to continue it.

2. On 5/3/05, a 5-year, emergency levy for 6.63 mills, collecting $2,468,000 per year passed. It expires in ‘10 and would have to go on the ballot in that year in order to continue it.

We don’t know where Mr. Rabe got the $687,000 levy amount and the ‘08 renewal year above, but we’re going with the Board of Elections‘ levy info at this point. We were also told by the Board of Elections that school districts don’t have to put levy renewals back on the ballot but, instead, can change the millage/amounts collected annually up or down and put them on as brand new levies.

Other revenues discussed:

1. Mr. Rabe said ‘09, the year of the deficit, is when revenue from the Linden Point development will start coming in, but he didn’t plug that figure into the 5-year forecast. Perhaps it isn’t known yet. Also, because of a new 1/1/06 state statute, the district will be able to keep all of the money Linden Point generates, which was not the case on Cornerstone and Rookwood Exchange.

2. Jeff Anderson and the school district have a “gentlemen’s agreement” (If true, we wonder why it‘s oral and not written.) that he pays $87,000 yearly on the Rookwood Exchange parcels, a figure that represents what the previous homeowners would be paying.

3. With enrollment down, revenues from the state are flat.

4. Remember the $5.5 million Rickenbacker loan taken out for building repairs/renovations following the $3 million loan for the Shea Stadium project? Some of it hasn’t been spent (Mr. Rabe didn’t say how much), and the unused portion is collecting interest. We understand the money is sitting in the general fund.

5. Mr. Rabe said they were able to cut the 25% increase in health insurance costs down to 6%.

We plan to report on the next Finance Committee meeting, which will cover the district’s expenditures. For now, we’re very pleased to tell you Mr. Faulkner, Mr. Miracle, and Ms. Gay want to cut and not tax.