School District 74 approves tentative levy
Updated: January 7, 2013 1:44AM
Financially stable and cognizant of residents’ concerns, Lincolnwood School District 74 is seeking a lower-than-usual property tax levy this year.
The Board of Education gave preliminary support Nov. 1 to levy approximately $21.16 million, representing a 0.55-percent increase from last year.
Interim Superintendent Kenneth Cull said the proposal reflects the Finance Committee’s non-support of a “balloon levy” request, a practice amongst school districts to capture the highest possible amount of tax dollars.
“There is a balance to this that has to be struck between taking more than we need and taking less than we need,” Board President Scott Anderson said of the process.
The district considered a levy consistent with the Consumer Price Index of 3 percent but settled on half that. The 2011 tax extension was $21.05 million.
A reduced levy keeps approximately $260,000 in taxpayers’ pockets.
“We’re attempting to recognize the fact that the board does have good fund balances,” Cull said. “We want to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money and also protect the assets and programs we have here in the district.”
A majority of new tax dollars would go toward the district’s education fund. Life safety and building initiatives would also receive additional support.
Board member Michael Davros asked the board to proceed cautiously since it is already spending reserves.
Vice President/Secretary Darlene Fourkas noted the district would lose the opportunity for money to compound if left on the table.
“We can’t pretend it’s $260,000 (less) this year; it’s every year,” she said. “I’m afraid (the decision) is shortsighted and that we’ll regret it later.”
Member John Vranas contended the district’s fund balance is well supported despite a recent decision to pay $7 million in outstanding debt certificates by the end of the calendar year.
The 2012-13 budget for District 74 reflects a reserve fund of approximately $25.3 million, equal to a year’s worth of operating expenses.
Though the need for a referendum seems unlikely in the near future, Vranas said he wouldn’t doubt taxpayers’ support of their schools.
“If this district runs into a situation where it needs money, I think this community would step up to the plate if we show the community we are diligent in how we’re spending the money,” he said.
A public hearing to approve the proposed property-tax levy increase is scheduled Dec. 6, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at Lincolnwood Village Hall, 6900 N. Lincoln Ave. ~.