Outgoing School District 122 officials chide some board members
BY ERIN GALLAGHER Correspondent January 24, 2014 7:22PM
New Lenox School District 122 business manager Harold Huang (left) reads from his memos to the board about specific budget cuts. He did so in response to an accusation by board member Maureen Broderick (second from left) that Huang did not tell board members what needed to be cut prior to a vote on the tax levy. Members Rhonda Starklauf (second from right) and Kathy Miller (right) agreed with Huang that they had the information. | Erin Gallagher~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2014 6:02AM
Parting shots weren’t on the agenda either time, but when a New Lenox School District 122 employee criticized some school board members at the Jan. 15 board meeting, it was the second time in less than a month it had happened.
Harold Huang, the district’s business manager, criticized board members Maureen Broderick and Sue Smith earlier this month, following in the footsteps of Supt. Michael Sass, who last month accused Smith and Phil Adair of political theatrics and playing to the camera that records the meetings for local-access cable television.
Both Huang and Sass are retiring at the end of the school year.
Huang flared up at Broderick at this month’s meeting after she accused staff of not presenting proposed budget cuts before the board’s vote on the tax levy in December.
“OK, timeout, timeout, Maureen, you’re forgetting an awful lot of stuff,” Huang said. “It was in the (budget) narrative, and we started talking about budget cuts last January (2013).”
Smith requested a time line to help her remember when to discuss the budget and when to vote.
“Sue, we’ve done this every year,” Huang said.
Huang read verbatim to the board from his narrative and other memos dated as early as January 2013.
“These (cuts) are all in here. When you guys say you haven’t been presented this, I get upset,” Huang said. “It’s my last year, so I get to be a little upset.”
At the Dec. 18 meeting, Smith opposed the levy — which is the amount the district seeks to collect in property tax revenue — despite admittedly not understanding what would be cut if it didn’t pass. She requested another presentation of the potential budget cuts.
“I feel the taxpayers need a relief,” Smith then said.
“If you feel the taxpayers need a relief, then you have a duty as a board of education member to tell me what direction you want the cuts, and you haven’t done that,” Sass said in response. “This feels like theatrics to me. Look in the camera and say what are the $4 million you want us to cut. I showed you what this district would look like if we made $4 million of cuts and you all just about puked.”
Sass accused Smith of an “annual show” of being against taxes without offering any solutions.
Adair also said at the December meeting he wanted more discussion about the budget. Sass said it had been discussed at a June retreat, then again at August and September board meetings, and Adair supported the same amounts when the tentative levy was presented in November.
The board ultimately approved a $46.5 million levy at the December meeting, despite Smith and Adair’s opposition. That represented an increase of about $18 for the owner of a $200,000 home for the district’s portion of the property tax bill, according to Huang.