Lee: OPRF can control spending better

School board member says salary costs are fair topic for FAC

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The District 200 Finance Advisory Committee should delve into the issue of the district's accelerating rate of expenditures and revenues, a topic that has yet to be fully vetted by the group, says a member of the Oak Park and River Forest High School board.

Ralph Lee, a two-term D200 board member, spoke during the public comments portion of the FAC's Monday night meeting. The public is invited to attend any FAC meeting, as well as speak during public comments. Lee, who's attended the previous FAC meetings, spoke for the first time at Monday's session.

Lee urged the committee to look hard at the relation between expenditures and revenues. The committee discussed a handful of topics Monday, including the impact of taxes on local businesses and looked at more OPRF budget projection models. Lee noted that the school's expenditures are outpacing revenues, a point that has come up in previous FAC meetings. Some of Monday's projection modeling also showed that fact. But Lee encouraged committee members to tackle that issue head on.

"I believe that there are certain assumptions that have not been discussed," he said. "We have not gotten into a serious discussion about how our rate of acceleration of expenditures matches with our rate of acceleration of income."

The school's revenues and expenditures both are increasing, Lee noted, with expenditures increasing at a faster rate.

"We have acted as though these are built-in things that we have no control over," he said about spending levels. "I believe that our board can control that acceleration of expenditures, but we've never seriously talked about it in open meetings because these expenditures have a lot to do with our biggest expense, which is salaries."

Salary discussions, Lee noted, are usually tied to contract talks, which are typically discussed in executive sessions.

"We don't like to talk about the board actually trying to control levels of compensation in a public meeting because that's something that has to be dealt with at the bargaining table. Well, I agree that the details do have to be dealt with at the bargaining table. But we have not discussed what our board would like to see," Lee said. "I believe that we have the ability to bring our expenditures in line with our revenues, thereby making referenda a moot point. We treat it as though it's something we have no control over and I believe that we have to change that."

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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Mimi Jordan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 2:00 PM

Good to see at least one elected official besides Anan values transparency. Yes, of course the board should talk in open meetings about all expenses, including salaries. This is their most basic function as elected officials. Hope all the other village and school board members finally got the memo.

Rob from Oak park  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 11:10 AM

Hey Ralph, Maybe you should have started that discussion before handing out 5-9 % administrative pay increases to the OPRF administrators....the same group that didn't take a two year pay freeze

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