Sniping continues over teachers insurance plan
By Jennifer Eisenbart
Before the Burlington Area School District Board of Education finalized its 2012-13 operating budget, the two new board members got in their parting shots Monday night.
Phil Ketterhagen and Roger Koldeway – both elected to the board in April with a goal to further a conservative fiscal agenda – voiced their objections to this year’s budget and tax levy before the board voted 4-2 to approve it.
Ketterhagen and Koldeway were the two “nay” votes, while Rosanne Hahn, David Thompson, William Campbell and Larry Anderson all voted for the budget.
The finalized tax levy came in at $20,359,096 – the same as last year. However, the equalized tax rate went up from $10.17 to $10.83 because of a decrease in property valuations in the majority of the areas in the district – the exception being Brighton, which totals all of $1,441 of the more than $122.5 million in property value over the City and Town of Burlington, Dover, Rochester, East Troy, Lyons, Spring Prairie and Brighton.
The final number ended into the budget for expenditures was just about $38.4 million. Revenue – between state aid in the amount of $14.53 million, the levied amount of $20.4 and other student fees and aid – came up just short, with the district using $427,366 of its available fund balance to close the gap.
Budget adjustments included an increase in salaries because of the need to hire additional kindergarten teachers after the start of the school year, as well as the new technology lease of about $1.1 million – which BASD needed to claim in full even though payments will be spread out over five years.
The budget needed to be finalized by the state’s Nov. 1 deadline.
Ketterhagen and Koldeway both stated the complaints they have had since the start of the budget process. Ketterhagen is upset that teacher pay raises are locked into the budget from the year before, while Koldeway stated that staff is not required to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.
The health insurance question has received considerable attention. The district chose to go with a high-deductible plan this year – or ask teachers to pay the premium difference to stick with last year’s plan.
The “upgrade fee” would equal about a 12 percent premium payment on behalf of the teachers. If teachers go with the high-deductible plan, they will pay more in out-of-pocket costs.
That wasn’t enough for Koldeway, who said the board still wasn’t “doing what the community wanted” in regards to health insurance. He then asked the board to send the budget back and look at it again.
Fellow board member Larry Anderson then called out Koldeway, saying BASD has the lowest insurance costs in the area, “which is best for the taxpayer,” and that Koldeway was “only interested in what you can hit the teachers for.”
Koldeway responded by saying he wanted to bring BASD in line with the private sector.