The River Forest village board once again delayed discussion on Monday night of a tax revamp for Keystone Montessori School, 7415 North Ave.

Keystone attorney Cathleen Italia submitted a request in May that the school be allowed to seek tax-exempt status, swapping their current $88,000 annual property tax bill for a flat fee of $50,000 per year. But the board appears to be sticking to an agreement worked out in 1998 that would penalize Keystone $100,000 per year in penalties if they ever sought tax exempt status.

“Maybe when the building is paid off we can go back on the tax rolls,” Italia offered.

But Trustee James Winikates countered, “I looked at your financial statements and you have $2.3 million in debt. That will take a long time to get that paid off.”

Winikates also asserted that Keystone did not ease a burden on the village because the River Forest schools could easily absorb the 24 local kindergarteners and small number of local children in the school’s upper grades. A total of 211 students attend Keystone, said Principal Victoria Shea.

Fewer River Forest students attend St. Vincent Ferrer School, which is tax-exempt, than Keystone, said Italia. “Those parents all pay taxes,” she said.

Trustee Michael Gibbs seemed annoyed that Italia’s memo implied that 12 years ago, former President Frank Paris had steered the school into a commercial building, effectively exposing Keystone to a rising tax bill.

“I’m uncomfortable [with those implications],” Gibbs said.

Shea said the building had turned out to be good for the school.

“[President] Paris said ‘this is the perfect location,’ and ‘this would be a good deal for you,'” Shea said. “I was worried about traffic on North Avenue, but our architect moved the entrance to the other side of the building.”

Citing legal concerns that they were unable to address at the meeting, the board tabled the discussion.

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Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...