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Local News

Referendum option included in Oswego School District 308 budget scenarios

Board of Education has until Dec. 27 to vote to place measure on March ballot

Chief Financial Officer Christi Tyler helped to lead a presentation of five year financial projections for Oswego School District 308, during the Board of Education meeting Monday, Oct. 7.
Chief Financial Officer Christi Tyler helped to lead a presentation of five year financial projections for Oswego School District 308, during the Board of Education meeting Monday, Oct. 7.

Oswego School District 308 voters may be asked to cast their ballots on a property tax hike referendum early next year.

District administrators presented two budget scenarios to the Board of Education during a meeting Monday evening, Oct. 7, at Oswego East High School.

The proposal for an operating fund referendum was one of the scenarios presented to the board as part of a five-year financial projections presentation.

Over the past 11 months the district has placed two referendums on the ballot in an effort to shore up its budget and prevent the need for further program and personnel cuts. Last November, voters rejected the district's initial request to establish a sales tax and then last April voters turned down the district's request to increase the tax levy rate for the district's operating fund.

The referendum proposal presented to the board Monday evening suggested the district's seek voter approval of a 30 cent increase in its operating fund--the same amount the district sought voter approval for in April.

According to the information, the referendum would cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 an additional $182 annually, while the owner of a home valued at $250,000 would pay an extra $232. The annual property tax bill for a $300,000 home would increase by $282.

If the board chooses to bring back the operating referendum that would mean certain changes to financial operations, including a gradual reduction in the value of tax anticipation warrants issued by the district, and a roll back of the budget cuts and fee increases approved by the board at a meeting Feb. 25.

Proposed roll backs include reducing the cost of high school athletic fees from $300 to $150 per student per sport, bringing back junior high athletics, reducing the class size divisor for kindergarten through fifth grades, and restoring the gifted education model for third grade students.

Chief Financial Officer Christi Tyler clarified that while the value of those roll backs were included in the financial projections at Monday's presentation, they are not set in stone and may change.

An alternative to the referendum, as proposed to the board, is maintaining current practices.

Maintaining current practices, according to administrators, would entail continuing to sell bonds for capital projects and technology, continuing to issue tax anticipation warrants, and further budget cuts and fee increases.

If the Board of Education chooses to bring back the referendum for the March 17 primary election ballot, they must vote do so by Dec. 27.

The Board of Education will next meet at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21, in the Community Room of Oswego East High School.

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