Elections have consequences. Last spring Riverside voters chose three candidates for the District 96 school board on a clear platform of holding spending and holding taxes.

Last week those three candidates — Randy Brockway, Rachel Marrello and Mary Rose Mangia — joined Michael O’Brien to hold the property tax levy steady at last year’s take. The administration, and three board members voting in the minority, had supported increasing the levy by the maximum amount possible under tax caps. This year, with inflation low, that amounted to 1.7 percent. 

While the percentage is modest, the lost increment amounted to $400,000 in revenue foregone. 

Mangia, the board president, noted the action was just for this year and said that, after local taxpayers had funded multiple school renovations as well as everyday operations at a generous level, it was time to give residents a breather, at least for this year.

We agree fully.

School boards, which we understand are heavily dependent on property taxes, are not obligated to raise taxes each year by the maximum possible. You wouldn’t necessarily know that because choosing to hold the levy is so rare among school boards.

With hefty reserves already banked, we’d like to see this school board spend the year ahead planning its future spending with a more conservative eye. These are fine schools and taxpayers have made clear they expect fine schools and will pay that price. No one should play the exploding enrollment and mushrooming class size card. This is a one-year freeze on taxes. That’s all.

Over the decades, we’ve become fonder of the tax cap law on local property taxes. That’s primarily because it can foster more spending accountability and it forces taxing bodies to turn to voters on occasion for permission to raise tax levels via referendum. That’s a healthy aspect of the relationship between those paying the bills and those receiving the proceeds.

One reply on “No take hike? That’s OK”