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Holland School Board to seek voter approval for 2.5 percent tax hike

The Holland School Board has tentatively agreed to exceed the tax cap for the 2014-15 school year and to present voters with a budget that calls for a 2.5 percent tax increase.

For many districts, that kind of a hike would not require a supermajority of votes, but Holland’s tax cap formula does not allow for a tax hike.

Business Official Laura Bosinski said that increase would close the $172,000 shortfall the district is experiencing as a result of a revenue drop of $407,000 even as expenses are expected to fall $234,350.

A 4 percent tax hike was also discussed. Bosinski said it would mean the district could look into some “wish list” items like technology purchases and additional staff in special education, business, technology and physical education. She said the district could also consider pumping up a diminishing fund balance of which the district plans to use $1.1 million to keep the tax hike low.

Bosinski admitted, “That is a lot of fund balance to put toward a budget of this size.”

The district anticipates a budget of about $17.8 million, 6.2 percent of which is supported by fund balance.

“It looks like we’ll get through next year, but I’m worried about 2015-16,” said Board Member Judy Geer.

Bosinski said the anticipated June 30 fund balance would be $150,590, slightly better than previously reported. Superintendent Cathy Fabiotos said relying on fund balance has been a problem and that auditors previously cautioned the district.

She said the proposed budget does not call for any recommended reductions in staff, though two retirements are possible. The district is in talks with the teachers union but, thus far, without result, Board President Steven Marom said.

The district will continue budget discussions at 6 p.m. April 7 in the former middle school library.

In another matter, the superintendent said May 23 will be a student attendance day, because of the excessive number of snow days. It was previously scheduled as a staff development day, which will now by held June 26. The district had seven snow days and one emergency day because of a large fire that blocked access routes to the school’s campus.