OPRF mulls 2.1% levy increase

The increase in line with inflation, represents moderate financial approach

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 Board of Education will consider adopting a 2.1 percent tax levy increase for 2018, which is the rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index.

The district's total 2018 levy request is around $68 million — $1.4 million more than the final 2017 tax extension of $66.6 million. The board could also seek a slight increase in revenue from $2.5 million worth of new taxable property in the district, which could generate another $77,000 in tax revenue.

In a memo prepared by Cyndi Sidor, the district's interim CFO and chief school business officer, and Robert Grossi, the district's financial consultant, the levy "would increase the annual taxes of a $400,000 market value home by approximately $68."

Sidor and Grossi explained that, from the 2011 to 2017 tax years, D200's tax levy has increased by slightly less than 1 percent — from $66.1 million to $66.7 million, for a difference of roughly $515,000.

By comparison, they said, the tax levy for the village of Oak Park and Oak Park Elementary Schools District 97 have increased by 46 percent and 29 percent, respectively, over that six-year period.

Over that time period, they added, D200 "has levied $32.2 million less than it was entitled to receive under the law and instead depleted approximately 20 percent of its fund balance reserve to cover operating deficits."

Sidor and Grossi described their recommendation as a measured approach in order to avoid an unsustainable alternative.

The school district, they said, needed to take an approach that allows its revenues to match expenditure.

"A long-term scenario whereby expenditure growth exceeds revenue growth by 2 percent annually will result in a decrease of fund balances in excess of $25 million and annual deficits in excess of $8 million," Sidor and Grossi wrote the memo to the school board. "This is not sustainable."

 "We recommend a more gradual, long-term increase in tax revenues matching the rate of inflation," they said.

The board is scheduled to adopt the final tax levy at a regular meeting on Dec. 20. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com    

Reader Comments

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Bob Pawlowski  

Posted: December 12th, 2018 9:41 PM

Wow. The mafia could take lessons from D200.

Josh Vanderberg  

Posted: December 12th, 2018 2:26 PM

The D200 board really needs to stop crowing about keeping it's levy flat for the last 6 or 7 years. They've still got a massive surplus, indicating the levy was set far far too high, the entire time. Expenses are just now starting to catch up to this massive revenue pipe they gave themselves.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: December 11th, 2018 8:53 PM

@JF. And wouldn't it have been nice if the quote above included a 10-yr period? They didn't and we know why.....it has led to having a $100M surplus today.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: December 11th, 2018 6:08 PM

D200 should forget about the additional taxes from new property. That money should be used to help reduce the individual taxpayers property taxes.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: December 11th, 2018 5:03 PM

@Michael, your point about telling a story through the manipulation of data (in this case the date range) is well taken. However, what is the answer to your question? Anecdotally, increases are painful especially if you aren't benefiting from them. But that doesn't mean that the increase over the 10 year period is unreasonable. I am very interested in knowing the true number.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: December 11th, 2018 3:45 PM

"Sidor and Grossi explained that, from the 2011 to 2017 tax years, D200's tax levy has increased slightly less than 1%...." Hmm, and what was the increase for the past ten years....y'know, which would include the part where they gouged the taxpayers thru taking advantage of a recently passed referendum? Lies, damn lies, and statistics....the latest of this "statistics" part is the entire fourth paragraph of this article. Do you think we are really that stupid? Perhaps we are.

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