Voters will decide whether to grant the Monmouth-Roseville School District a 75-cent tax rate increase for the education fund. Salaries and most other day-to-day expenses are paid from that fund.
The increase would make the maximum rate $3.00. The district also asked for the increase in the March primary but the proposal was rejected by 63% of voters.
Superintendent Ed Fletcher has worked to change the outcome this time around. He's hosted forums and talked to local groups about the need for the increase.
“I’m an optimist,” Fletcher said. “I’d like to think it’s going to be voted and approved by our voters. I think they see the need and understand the need. And I believe they want a quality education for their children and grandchildren.”
Fletcher said the increase will help make up for a loss of state funding. He said the district is owed an estimated $3.2 million in General State Aid, but he doubts the district will ever see the money.
Although the district is asking for a 75-cent increase, Fletcher said the rate might not necessarily increase by that much right away.
“75-cents may seem like a large number, but the board wanted to try and do this and have it approved, versus doing 25 cents and coming back three years later, ‘Oh we need another 25 cents’, and coming back after that,” Fletcher said.
The owner of a $35,000 home would pay an extra $21.88 if the full increase is implemented.
Fletcher said the need for the increase is urgent because of uncertainty at the state level.
“You’re not sure who’s going to be elected Governor, you’re not sure what’s going to happen in the lame duck session, and we really don’t have a lot of answers until late-May, early-June, when the governor, whoever that might be, signs a budget, an education budget, and find out what our funding is,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher added that the district could issue working cash bonds to offset loss revenues, but those would ultimately end up costing taxpayers too.
He said while cuts are possible as well, the school board is not in favor of making them.
“We’re staffed as lean as we can be staffed in our teaching ranks, we’re staffed as lean as we can in our certified staff.," Fletcher said.
"We could look at cutting programs, but I could cut every single program we have, and still not equal the possible loss of revenue that we would see from the state."
At forums, Fletcher has said the district is in the last year of a three year deficit reduction plan that he estimates saved the district around $350,000.