LINCOLN–(KFOR Sept. 26)–A public hearing was held Monday night over the Lincoln Public Schools’ $514-million, 2023-24 fiscal year budget and the property tax levy, with most of the people who testified saying it’s not the right time because of inflation and high property tax bills.

The district has opted to reduce its levy by 14 cents to $1.07 per $100 of valuation. Among the testifiers asking the district to reconsider the budget amount was Lincoln Independent Association executive director Bud Synhorst, who said he recognizes the importance of education in LPS and supports adequately paying teachers and supporting students. He says increasing the taxes freely right now doesn’t make sense.

“We encourage the Board of Education to utilize fiscal restraint in the budgeting process,” Synhorst said.  “And be sensitive to the cost being pushed down to the taxpayer, not just this year but years to come.”

LPS’ budget for this fiscal year is nearly 5%, or roughly $24-million, more than the 2022-23 budget.  State aid has been trending downward the past five years and the district is relying more on property taxes to fund a growing school system with expenses increasing.

Still, those who testified say now is not the time to increase funding.  Heather Schmidt said the taxpayers are making sacrifices with inflation being high.

“Inflation is hitting everyone’s budget, not just yours,” Schmidt told LPS Board members. “People are begging you to rethink and cut some spending.”

Lori Marsh told the Board they are asking “each of us to reach further down into our pockets when groceries are at record high prices.”

Lincoln School Board members are set to vote on the proposed budget at Tuesday’s 6pm regular meeting at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center.