Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Elmhurst School District 205 board members have debated

Cash Clash: Elmhurst D-205 Debates Again How Much To Put Away

One board member said a “big pile of money” would tempt him and his colleagues. He advised against it.

 
During a December meeting, Athena Arvanitis (foreground), a board member for Elmhurst School District 205, disagreed with her colleagues, Jim Collins (left), and Karen Stuefen (next to Arvanitis) over a policy on how much money to put away. (David Giuliani/Patch)

ELMHURST, IL – Since last year, Elmhurst School District 205 board members have debated over how much money to keep in the bank.

On Tuesday, the board was asked to approve a committee recommendation to put away the equivalent of 15 to 20 percent of the cost of running the district for a year.

As he has before, board member Jim Collins opposed the idea. He said it was too much.

The proposal, he said, would require the district to keep nearly $20 million on hand at the cash low point of the year, which is May 31. The amount that day could be as low as zero, he said.

“Anytime you give elected officials a big pile of money, I’ll contend they will find something to spend it on, and I don’t think that’s healthy. I include myself in that group,” Collins said.

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He also criticized the policy for its silence on what administrators should do if the cash on hand falls below the required range.

He recommended keeping 5 percent on hand.

However, member Athena Arvanitis backed the 15 to 20 percent range. She noted the board approved nearly $20 million in cost overruns for construction projects. That money is set to come from the school’s bank accounts.

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Arvanitis said the district is also facing unknowns with the budget. She said they include staffing considerations, salaries, benefits and building improvements after the voter-approved projects are done.

Collins cautioned against spending down the district’s cash balances with recurring expenditures.

“It’s irresponsible,” he said.

Board President Kara Caforio delayed a vote on the issue.

“There’s too much disagreement, and this is a significant policy,” she said. “The full board should be present.”

She said she knew not everyone would be happy with her decision.

Member Chris Kociniski was absent.

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