Council Forced to Pass Defeated School Budget
The local school tax levy had remained the same since 1992, even as the overall budget swelled with state and federal aid. But after passage of the reform legislation, the local amount went up from $17,683,906 to $18,391,262 last year and $19,862,563 this year. The legislation is aimed at achieving more of a "fair share" of school costs in the state's 31 neediest school systems, known as Abbott districts. Plainfield still receives massive amounts of aid, but residents are now being asked to pay more than the roughly 20 percent paid in the past. In suburban districts, residents pay almost all school costs out of local taxes.
Even though Plaintalker confirmed April 15 with Business Administrator Gary Ottmann that the budget figure would stand even if voted down on April 21, some local leaders did not believe it until they heard Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy say the words at a May 4 council meeting. Davy explained that no matter what action the council took to trim the defeated budget, she would be forced by law to restore it.
Council President Rashid Burney remarked Monday that he had never faced such a situation before and that he and others had gone over the budget for possible cuts. But in light of the legislation and facing a May 19 deadline to take action on the defeated budget, the council accepted the amount set by the state.