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Halle, school board spar over max tax hike

May 13, 2019 Digital Media Exclusive

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Tempers frayed at the Butler School Board meeting Monday night as the Tornado school directors exchanged words with fellow member Bill Halle about the proposed tax increase.

Vote on the proposed budget: 7-to-1

Dissent drew frustrations among Butler School Board directors Monday night as officials moved toward raising taxes.

In a 7-to-1 vote, the board approved a proposed budget that includes a maximum tax increase of 3.03 mills added to the district's existing 101 mill property tax rate. The increase isn't finalized yet, but a version of the budget including the tax hike or a lesser one will be finalized in about a month.

The board generally agrees on raising taxes for three reasons: ongoing increasing costs like pensions and health care; establishing reserve and capital projects funds, two budget features that Butler schools historically can't seem to keep; and a smattering of curriculum improvements, like textbooks, and mental health

The lone hold-out “no” vote came from director Bill Halle.

“I'm not saying I'm going to vote not to raise any taxes, I'm saying I'd like to have a discussion and have more planning and more understanding, especially when we're talking about a max (increase),” he said.

His stance and vote bothered fellow directors, who say they've been discussing budgets in detail for months.

Director Gary Shingleton said that Halle “sounds like our state legislature.”

“Do you want to borrow $10 million, 10 years from now?” Shingleton said. “We don't have to. We could cut a check if we had done the right thing last year. Now, it's still not too late.”

To that, Halle said: “I don't think you've heard me for the past eight years.”

“Oh, I think I have,” Shingleton said.

Read the full story in Monday's Butler Eagle

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