By Devin Rose
Based on what the board thought was a healthy fund balance at the end of its five-year projection, District 90 decided not to take its allotted three percent tax levy increase and approved a reduced 2012 levy at a meeting last month.
The adopted levy of $18.9 million is about $566,000 less than the prior year, or a 2.9 percent reduction, said Anthony Cozzi, D90's director of finance and facilities. Cozzi said the levy must be reduced in order to freeze the extension because the county adds its ability to tax new properties.
The board could have increased the levy by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, of three percent. But they were comfortable with a fund balance of $23.5 million in the 2017 fiscal year, which is the final year of its five-year projection. The vote was unanimous.
"It's very important to the board and administrators to be responsible stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," said D90 Supt. Ed Condon. "The board felt this was something that could be managed," he said, while still providing high quality education.
Board President Jim Weiss said this isn't the first time the board has opted not to take all the tax money it was allowed. In 2008, the last year of a four-year referendum initiative, the board enacted only half of what had been a 27.5 cent per $100 of equalized assessed valuation tax increase, said Cozzi and Weiss. In the fourth year, the board realized their fund balance was healthier than they had anticipated. The levy approval was a similar situation.
"We had additional authority to tax for, but we said no," Weiss said of the board's annual decision. "We're constantly looking at fund balances and expenditures and trying to make sure they stay in balance so taxes can stay as low as possible."
Also last month, the D200 board approved a 2.5 percent increase in the high school's levy, bringing in about $1.6 million in new revenue from property taxes. That vote followed a two-hour public hearing, with almost all speakers opposing the levy increase. The lone dissenter, Sharon Patchak-Layman, said she opposed the school's fund balance, which is more than $117 million.