Dolores Karner blogs on behalf of the New Berlin Citizens for Responsible Government, whose mission is to inform the public about significant issues and to recommend public action when deemed necessary. The NBCRG believes government officials and their employees should be accountable for their actions or lack of actions. The group also recruits and endorses candidates to public office who best express the positions taken by this organization.
New Berlin Citizens for Responsible Government (NBCRG) has several questions for the School Board regarding the New Berlin School District's 2014/15 proposed budget. The School Board has proposed a 3.78% property tax levy increase which NBCRG believes requires further clarification and explanation.
The School Board is making the claim that the growth in the tax base, which is the assessed valuation of property in New Berlin, will increase 2% this year. Since the growth rate is a direct offset against the tax rate increase, they claim that your tax bill will ONLY go up 1.78% this year. Normally, the school district gets annual tax base growth estimates from the City of New Berlin. According to city records, the tax base is projected to grow by only 1% this year, not 2%. So, your tax bill will actually increase by 2.78%. Why is the school district using a growth projection which is twice as high as the growth rate projected by the City? Why is the Board significantly understating the actual size of the property tax increase people will get in December?
Not only is the overall percentage tax increase troubling, there are specific budget items which cause serious concern. How does the School Board justify to New Berlin taxpayers, increasing spending on school district Administration from $3,829,398 in 2013/14 to $4,211,266 in 2014/15, a huge 9.97% increase? An increase like that demands detailed answers.
The budget for Pupil Services is proposed to jump from $598,452 in 2013/14 to $828,201 in 2014/15 for a whopping 38.39% increase! What is the School Board's explanation for this extremely high increase?
According to the New Berlin NOW, the School Board is giving a 3% salary increase to district teachers. The School Board also is not asking teachers to pay a larger percentage of their health insurance premiums, which is now at 12.5%. Many taxpayers working in the private sector are paying over 30% of their health insurance premiums and are lucky to get any pay increase. Why is the School Board not taking advantage of the ACT 10 law to keep spending and taxes at a reasonable level?
These are just some of the questions the School Board needs to answer. Taxpayers need to know how their hard earned tax dollars are being spent and why.
Ralph Heun, President