Letter to the Editor - Call Newspapers
January 19, 2011
To the editor:
It is time to end the dog-and-pony show regarding cut and spend.
The first order of business is how to reduce expenses. According to the Call, it was approximately a year ago that Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch projected that the Mehlville School District would deplete its operating reserve by 2013 due to a combination of flat tax revenue and state aid tax cuts.
The administrators and the school board think that by spending cuts and spend downs they can get at least to $4.8 million to balance the budget.
The superintendent thinks the board knows the district will not be able to take the $4.8 million right off the top in cuts. So the district will spend down, in other words, withdrawing funds from the operating reserve in combination with cuts to achieve the $4.8 million in moneys needed to balance the budget.
On the district's website there is a contingency plan that identifies approximately $6.8 million in spending cuts. This includes eliminating free bus service. That is another topic for later discussion. If that line item is removed, that still leaves $4.6 million in spending cuts. So can't the board take at least $4.6 million right off the top?
I am not a finance expert, but taking money out of the operating fund below the comfort level of Mr. Knobloch does not seem to be a responsible proposition to me, even if one board member isn't concerned with the bond rating of the district.
The Board of Education should first give the directive to the administration that by March 31 of 2011, it is to have a plan, in writing with specifics, which eliminates 5 percent of expenses from each operations budget.
Sure it's hard, most every business and individual is in the same condition, but that is the reality of how the state of the economy is today and for the foreseeable future. Only when the list of cuts is addressed should they consider reaching into the cookie jar.
The Board of Education should also keep in mind where 62 percent of the school district's taxpayers stand on the district's money issues.
Editor's note: Greg Frigerio serves as treasurer of the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, a grassroots, nonpartisan organization that opposed the Mehlville School District's Proposition C.