Winnebago’s city administrator and police chief are stepping up to limit the increase in next year’s budget.
The question is whether Blue Earth Area (BEA) School District administrators will do the same when the School Board has to consider making budget cuts of at least $1 million.
During a work session held Monday night, City Administrator Jake Skluzacek told council members that a proposed tax levy hike of 17 percent has been trimmed to 12.34 percent.
Skluzacek says he and Police Chief Eric Olson are willing to take a pay freeze as a way to further reduce the levy increase.
Council member Paul Eisenmenger expressed his appreciation that two city employees will take less pay during a budget crunch.
“It’s an unbelievable gesture by both of you because living costs aren’t getting any cheaper or easier,” says Eisenmenger. “Is there anything we can cut?”
The levy could be reduced to around 8.5 percent if the council decides the police department will not have a fourth officer.
Council members met with department heads looking at areas to cut to address a proposed tax levy of $689,351, an increase of $76,000.
“I just don’t want to be in double digits. I think that would be hard to sell,” says Councilman Rick Johnson.
Skluzacek and Olson taking a freeze in pay would amount to a total annual savings of only $6,000.
“I think we can still consider the pay freeze. If we have to do it, we can,” says Skluzacek.
Meanwhile, BEA officials will have to make “severe cuts” says Superintendent Mandy Fletcher as a result of an operating referendum being voted down on Nov. 5.
Fletcher and board chairperson Susan Benz would not say if pay freezes for administrators will be considered to deal with a budget deficit estimated to top $1million next school year.
In 2020, the board’s negotiating team and the district’s three principals will be working on a new master contract.
High school principal Greg Ewing is being paid $105,600 this year, while middle school principal David Dressler is making $98,000 and assistant middle school Conan Shaffer’s salary is $83,000.
Fletcher is being paid an annual salary of $133,000 this year and is scheduled to earn $134,995 in 2020-21 and $137,020 in 2021-22.