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Palisades limits real estate tax increase to 0.61 percent


Assisted by a 1.1 percent cut in costs for salaries and benefits, the Palisades School District has limited its tax increase for the 2019-2020 school year to 0.61 percent, or a median annual increase of $27.84 per household. Millage is to increase from 114.30 to 115 for the $46.7 million expenditures.

The action was taken with unanimous approval of the 2019-2020 budget at the June 5 public school board meeting. Later in the meeting, the board acknowledged with deep regret the retirements of three staff members who each had more than 30 years of service to the district.

The 0.61 percent increase is down from increases the last four years of 0.82 percent, 0.90 percent, 0.94 percent, and 0.88 percent, and no increase for the three years before that.

In his final budget presentation, Business Administrator Drew Bishop noted a 7.7 percent increase since last year in the district’s state-controlled tuition support for private charter schools, and a 170 percent increase since 2012-2013. He added that in the same 7-year period, the school board has been able to limit district tax increases to 4.2 percent.

State-controlled retirement costs, criticized by board members for many years, along with the charter support formula, as in urgent need of reform, are to increase for 2019-2020 by 3.7 percent, and by 155 percent since 2012-2013. But the district has been able to avoid tax increase spikes that other districts were forced to make, in response to that problem, by establishing a special retirement spike fund about 10 years ago, and also by allowing for small tax increases for school years before that.

In addition, Bishop pointed out that an overall decrease in state funding to the district for the 2019-2020 school year accounted for $3.64 of the $27.84 median annual household increase, or about 13 percent.

The three retirements, each noted in deeply heartfelt fashion in introductions by fellow staffers, as heavy losses for the district, included Nancy Pontier, 31 years, whose latest position was guidance counselor at Palisades Middle School (PALMS); Alan Klingbeil, 37 years, most recently as head custodian at PALMS, including development of the district’s green cleaning and recycling programs; and Jan Doddy, 30 years, who was serving as the lead audio visual and computer technician for the district.