By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
The board of education took the first step to ask voters for new money in November.
At a special meeting Thursday, the board agreed to place a 3.9-mill, three-year emergency levy on the November ballot to raise about $3.1 million annually.
“We’re at a point with the challenges in state funding and personal property taxes that we’re looking for ways to continue to maintain the excellent quality of education that we’ve had for our community,” said John Landers, board vice president.
“I don’t think the board ever wants to make a decision like this,” he added. “But we feel that we need to continue to work with our community and the property owners in the district, like the board members are, and that’s why we’re placing this levy on the ballot — to work with them and to continue to maintain our financial footing.”
In the past two years, the district has lost $2.66 million in personal-property-tax money and state funding, said Rich Santilli, district treasurer.
Voters last approved a new school levy in 2003.
The board has made that money last nine years, Landers pointed out.
The board has made reductions in staff, at a savings of more than $3 million.
It also implemented a retire-rehire program, which has saved the district about $3.8 million over 10 years.
The base-pay salaries for all staff has been frozen for six years over the past 12 years.
And the board has saved money on utilities through various programs.
“We’re already at bone,” said board member Kim Poma.
Without taking action, the board projects a deficit of more than $3.5 million by the end of 2015.
“To be good leaders of the district we had to take action now before there’s really a full-blown emergency,” Landers said.
The board officially will vote to approve placing the levy on the Nov. 6 ballot at its July 23 meeting.