Sunday, August 9, 2009

Public Hearing on the Budget this Week

7:00 p.m., at the District Office, Room 100,
501 S. Bird St., Sun Prairie long last there will be a public hearing on the budget. However,...just like last year...there's no information for you to review. Can you say "SHENANIGANS"? What a great game plan: if the district doesn't make all these numbers available to the public until just before the meeting, then there's no way the public can make enough sense of them to formulate an opinion. Therefore, the District can march ahead and do what they want and say, "Well, we held a public hearing and received no comments".

What we can tell you is this: The District plan is to have a budget that will raise the mill rate at least $1.28 over last year to $11.81 per $1,000 of assessed value. An alternative plan would allow the district to spend up to the revenue limit (an additional $591K). That would result in a mill rate increase of $1.43 ($11.96/$1,000).

The budget assumptions include cutting all building budgets by 5%. This includes materials and supplies for all the schools! Gee...isn't it nice that the belt tightening finally comes at the expense of the students---AFTER the employees have all gotten very healthy raises. Don't kid yourself about those "3.8% Total package" figures, either. Many employees are seeing salary increase much greater than 3.8%. Where's the shenanigans? Consider why the board rushed to resolve contracts faster than they have ever done. Culver likes to say that the contracts are a significant piece of the budget which must be agreed upon before you can see budget information.

Horse Puckey! You BUDGET for how much you are willing/able to spend and THEN open negotiations. Board members will tell you that they didn't offer less for fear of losing in arbitration. They should all be poker champions if they can truly say that with a straight face! In this economic crisis, there is NO WAY the district would have lost at the arbitration table.

So there, you have it ladies and gents. At the MINIMUM, it looks like the school district portion of property taxes on a $200,000 home will increase by $256.

Our advice to you---if you care at all-- is to:

(A) raise holy heck with the district office and the school board for scheduling a public hearing with NO ADVANCE notice of budget data. Call 'em. E-mail 'em. Let them know that it is unacceptable to not make this data available at least a week in advance.

(B) Come to the budget hearing and tell them you're upset about (A) and then speak your piece about spending.