Board members held a public hearing to discuss a proposed tax levy, valued at 4.99 percent, or $33.78 million, for the 2016-17 school year during the District 28 School Board Meeting on Dec. 15.
After the hearing, the district (with the absence of board member Carol Currie) voted 6-0 to approve both the adoption of the 2015 tax levy and its extension.
The levy includes a 0.8 percent increase based on the consumer price index (CPI) for calendar year 2014-15 and is valued at $16,000,000, or 1.51 percent, for the total property value in the district.
School officials are required by the state’s Property Tax Extension Limitation Law to request a tax levy, in an effort to procure funding for future projections.
The law limits the total property tax revenue received by the district each year to increase only by the CPI or 5%, whichever is less.
Jessica Donato, chief school business official, highlighted some of the ramifications that surface when school officials are asked to make a proposal, explaining how it’s not only important to know how that levy affects them but how the calendar year, the levy year, and the fiscal year play a part in the levy process.
“The levy is always a confusing process because we actually ask for a dollar amount, but the extension is limited by various laws,” she said. “The levy is based on these formulas where there are several unknowns.”
Donato said in the end, it provides 95% of the district’s revenues to fund the operation of school programs.
The tax levy’s 12-year average is 2.2 percent, and in looking at District’s 5-year average, it rests at 1.7 percent.
If you look at the 2008 tax levy and compare it to the following year, Donato said you’d notice some fluctuation.
“So, we know the CPI factor is 0.8 percent,” she said. “The 2014 capped extension was $32,175, 746. We know the increase due to CPI will be $257,406. What we can estimate and what we levy for, asking for more than we think we’ll get, is necessary because this new growth is unknown.”
Donato said if they don’t capture all the new growth the first time it comes up in the tax rolls, they’ll never be able to capture that outside of the CPI percentage.
“So, when we determine the levy, we look at the new growth,” She said. “It’s ranged from 0.3 to 3 percent. Our annual new growth is unknown. We’re projecting at a 1.5 percent new growth and we’re levying for 4.19 percent new growth. In case there’s more new property coming on that we’re unaware of, that’s the factor we’re using. We don’t ask for it, we won’t receive and we won’t receive anymore than the law allows us to receive.”
Donato said it’s difficult to request a tax levy not being able to see what’s to come in the years that follow.
“We don’t know our future costs—insurance, impact of the healthcare reform, our enrollment, unfunded mandates, state funding reform, property tax free, the pension—there’s all these unknown factors affecting our future here in the schools, so that’s why we levy more,” she said.
Donato said in the end, the district is looking at $32,918,423 as a possible extension, which is $742,697 more than the 2014.