The Oswego 308 board approved the fiscal year 2014 school
budget for $209 million on Monday night.
That budget includes a $9.8 million increase over last year’s budget, but Oswego 308 taxpayers will only have to foot about $1.8 million, or 19 percent, of the increase.
“Of this increase, I would remind public that 81 percent is state revenue,” said superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt. That number would have been even larger had the district grown more.
The budget the board approved was one of three options presented earlier to the board in September. The new budget calls for the school district to find $1.3 million to cut, and collect only on new construction in the district.
Board member Greg O’Neil asked that since the budget was only taxing new construction, would the current taxpayers see no increase in their taxes.
Wendt answered no, because of the debt the school district has accumulated. As of June 2013, Oswego 308 has accumulated more than $417 million in outstanding debt.
“There will be an increase to property owners, due to our debt increase,” said Wendt.
A part of the problem is that the school district is only being funded at 89 percent by the state.
The district is missing over $11 million from the state from the past three years. “When are we going to collaborate and come together and get the attention from the state?” asked Wendt. “It really is becoming a crisis.”
Wendt said the school administration would recommend the board approve the budget they put forward and the district would continue its audits to find $1.3 million.
This year, the district has already cut $1.3 million to approve the FY 13 budget with a $220,000 surplus, after previously cutting from a $7.5 million deficit last year that the board was presented with in its budget.
“I don’t believe that it’s easy to cut over $10 million out of a budget,” said Wendt. “Maybe that is the direction we should go. It is the direction we are going. I leave it to the board to determine if that is the course.”
O’Neil said that as far as he was aware, Kendall County has the highest property tax rates in the entire country and that he was uncomfortable with the budget and the current course it is on.
“I don’t know where we’re going from here,” said O’Neil. “We have no financial trajectory ahead of us. That scares me, and I think it scares a lot of our taxpayers.”
The fiscal year 2014 budget passed 6-1 with O’Neil voting against it.