The financial forecast dated July 22, 2014, posted to the Hudson Schools website reveals mixed messages of success and concern.
First, some background. In October 2009 our Board of Education approved a forecast that projected $71.8 million in expenditures for 2014, which was an increase from the actual $59.2 million for 2009. To fund this substantial increase in spending, our BOE put a 5.9-mill levy on the May and November 2010 ballots with the prediction that dire consequences would occur if the voters did not approve this tax increase. Thanks to many vocal citizens and the common sense of a majority of voters, these unsustainable and unjustified tax increases were defeated, which forced our BOE to lower their 2011 levy to 4.9-mills and to make necessary but prudent cost reductions that have saved the taxpayers mega-millions over the last five years.
The success is that the 2014 reported results showed expenditures of $56.5 million with a substantial cash/fund balance of $17.4 million - all accomplished with no dire consequences. My hat is off to our BOE, the teachers/staff, and the concerned taxpayers for this collaborative success!
However, the forecast also raises some concern when reviewing the years 2015 through 2018. The expenditures are forecasted to increase annually from the $56.5 million in 2014 to $62.6 million in 2018 - a $6.1 million and 10.8 percent increase over this four-year period. This four-year increase is forecasted even though the student enrollment continues to decline from 4,666 to 4,394. This increases the per-student cost from $12,114 to $14,250 - a 17.6 percent increase. The website offers no explanation or justification for this substantial cost increase.
Seeing no projected increase in revenue, please join me in cautioning our BOE to reconsider their apparent plan to return to unsustainable spending increases that could ultimately lead to another tax increase showdown.
Jeff Keil, Hudson