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D-304 passes $94 million budget

GENEVA – The Geneva School District 304 board Monday approved a $94 million budget for the 2012-13 school year, a spending plan that is $8 million more than last year.

The plan relies on $7.2 million in planned expenditures for building maintenance and other projects, such as finishing the installation at Burgess Field and track resurfacing.

Board members accepted the new budget after a public hearing in which a few taxpayers had questions and comments.

Resident Barry Bourdage noted the lack of a cut in the spending plan.

“We have to have a reduction,” Bourdage said.

He criticized using reserves, saying it would be like making $10,000 a month but spending $12,000 and relying on savings for that.

“Dipping into reserves is not a positive; it’s a negative thing,” Bourdage said.

But Kelly Nowak, standing in for board President Pro Tem Mark Grosso in his absence, said the normal expenditures come from the general budget.

“We are dipping into reserves for extraordinary things,” Nowak said. “We understand reductions in the budget. We are doing our very best.”

But Bourdage said the district’s nearly $19 million in reserves is a result of being overtaxed.

“We are living beyond our means,” Bourdage said. “Every homeowner in this city understands you can’t live this way.”

Donna Oberg, assistant superintendent for business services, said $15 million in a working cash fund is to aid the district in cash-flow situations, such as when the bills are due but the taxes have not arrived.

Oberg said officials borrow from this fund to avoid taking a tax anticipation warrant, which has interest costs.

About 200 teachers wearing bright green T-shirts also were at the meeting. Teachers have worked without a new contract since school started and have been coming to meetings to advocate for a fair contract.

“Please keep in mind we are all working very hard to represent everyone’s interests,” Nowak said.

“It’s not an ‘us and them’ situation.”

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