Once again, O'Fallon homeowners are being asked to shell out more of their hard-earned cash to a school district with an insatiable appetite for money: the more they get, the more they spend and the more they want. It's a vicious cycle that seems to never end.
Even more frightening, District 90 racked up deficits for six of the last eight years while borrowing money to pay for what we could otherwise not afford. No one asked the bill payer, you and me, for permission to spend us into much of this debt.
Now Dr. Koehl and the board have their hand out, asking for a permanent increase in the Education Fund from $1.40 to $1.89 -- a whopping 35 percent increase, increasing district taxes by 16 percent. The levy will generate more than $3 million and the current shortfall is about $1.7 million, depending on who you talk to. No one can adequately explain where the $1.3 million be spent.
Koehl publicly stated that he has only "nibbled around the edges" of the budget. Maybe it's about time he takes some big bites out of the entire budget to generate the cost savings necessary to keep the programs in place of importance to the kids. In the last decade, the education fund has increased by 191 percent while school enrollments increased by a paltry 14 percent.
This is only part of the tax picture. Conveniently, no one is talking about the increased interest payments to service the bond debt or O'Fallon's recently completed reassessment by the county assessor. While some property assessments decreased, many more increased by as much as 25 percent to 50 percent. Do you really believe that the tax rates are going to go down? Think again. Taken together, these tax increases are not "just the price of a Subway sandwich" as the proponents of this referendum want you to believe. You are buying an entire Subway franchise, which will be confirmed upon receipt of your tax bill in June.
Taxpayers are being squeezed to the breaking point, with just the cost of everyday living, and the multitude of federal, state and local taxes on about everything but the air we breathe. In O'Fallon, approximately 195 homes are in foreclosure, citizens are taking pay cuts to hang onto their jobs, the furloughs are on the way for many others, and our seniors struggle to meet everyday expenses as the cost of living rises rapidly. These are tough times, but when do we, the bill payers, get a break? The last thing O'Fallon residents need is another tax increase.
District 90 has done an admirable job in educating our children. We have excellent teachers, staff, administrators and facilities for which we can all be proud. However, we must rein in this "tax and spend" culture. If we don't, we will all become the victims of our success --and the great schools that brought us to O'Fallon to begin with will also be the reason many of us depart.
John Hughes is president of CAD90.