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Holland School Board seeking 2.5% tax levy increase

The Holland School Board, facing a negative tax cap, agreed in a 7-0 vote to seek a school tax levy increase of 2.5 percent, which will require 60 percent voter approval.

The $17.6 million spending plan is $367,000 less than the current year’s budget.

Superintendent Cathy Fabiotos said last Monday that the 1.22 percent negative cap put the district in “unchartered” territory, prompting numerous calls to the State Comptroller’s Office for clarification since few schools have had to face that scenario.

“Our board was confident, though, that the people in Holland want to support their school. They’re been through a lot of turmoil,” Fabiotos said.

Community members at a recent board meeting even asked for a 4 percent tax hike in a sign of support.

Since neither the superintendent nor business leader Laura Bosinski – just three months on the job – had anything to do with the current year’s budget, officials said every budget line was examined carefully.

In addition, the district initiated a freeze on spending several months ago. “We’ve been very frugal, scrutinizing every penny going out,” said Fabiotos, noting that tight fiscal oversight has been paying off.

Initiatives achieved in next year’s budget are increases in technology, including one-on-one devices for students and teachers, no reduction in programs or services, no reduction in the workforce and a reduction in reliance on the fund balance to balance the budget.

The district has slated $760,000 in reserve funds to balance the 2014-15 budget, compared with about $1 million budgeted for each of the last few years. It is $270,000 less than the district had anticipated just weeks earlier.

Despite needing a super-majority of voters to pass the budget, district officials say Holland residents are still getting a good deal compared with residents in other districts. The overall proposed tax levy of $7.1 million for next year is less than the tax levy district voters paid in 2008-09 or any year since.

A budget hearing is planned for 6 p.m. May 12 in the former Middle School library.