Online Exclusive via the Keller Citizen:
Keller trustees on Thursday approved a $200 million budget for next year that includes raises for all employees and indicated they will likely call an election in November 2010 to increase the property tax rate.
The 2009-10 budget has a $318,754 shortfall, which officials agreed to temporarily cover with money in savings until other spending cuts are made. Balancing the budget became a top priority after the district approved a nearly $5 million deficit spending plan a year ago.
Teachers, counselors, librarians and speech therapists will receive the state-mandated 2.7 percent pay raise funded by the federal stimulus. Trustees agreed to spend $850,000 of district funds to give all other employees 2 percent raises, an unexpected move after discussion at an Aug. 17 budget workshop indicated the raises were unlikely.
Officials have already cut more than $8 million in expenses for next year and say they will face a $12 million deficit in the 2010-11 budget if the state doesn’t update its school-funding formulas.
Trustees also said an election to raise the district’s tax rate for operating expenses beyond the state cap appears to be the only option to cover the potential $12 million deficit. The cap is $1.04 cents per $100 in assessed property value, and voter approval is required to raise the rate for day-to-day costs.
“We absolutely can’t sustain the level of education we’re providing our children” through 2011 without the higher rate, trustee Lara Lee Hogg said. “It’s not do-able.”
The budget approved Thursday includes a 6.9-cent tax increase, a result of the $142 million bond package approved by voters last year. That brings the total levy next year to about $1.486.
So much here I don’t know where to begin. Everybody gets a raise when the economy is as bad as it is? Give me a break.
The district is going to put to a vote to raise our taxes and raise the rate next year? Good freakin’ luck with that.
Maybe after my nerves settle I’ll write some more, but right now I need to think before I type.