BY KIM LUTTRELL
Georgetown Ridge Farm School Board members voted in rapid succession Monday to raise the district’s property tax levy by 14.03 percent and to close the Ridge Farm Elementary School.
These two measures were needed to close a projected $1 million budget deficit, according to Superintendent Jean Henigman-Neal.
In a required truth-in-taxation public hearing conducted at the beginning of Monday night’s school board meeting, Henigman-Neal told the audience the increase in the tax levy was needed because the tax burden for funding schools has shifted to the local taxpayer and away from the state.
"For the 2011 2012 school year, the state of Illinois only paid the district 89 percent of what it is suppose to pay," Henigman-Neal said. "This year, we estimate on receiving only 85 percent of what we are entitled to.”
The school district’s tax rate is expected to rise from last year’s $3.83 per $100 of assessed valuation to an estimated $4.17 per $100 of assessed valuation.
That will bring in an additional $322,000 in property tax revenue.
Henigman-Neal said that number depends on the equalized assessed valuation for the district.
The vote to approve the 14.03 percent tax increase came quickly after an initial move by some board members to approve a 10.41 percent increase failed.
After the vote to set the tax levy, school board members — with no discussion — approved the closing of Ridge Farm Elementary School.
Henigman-Neal told board members the closing of the Ridge Farm school would save the district $300,000 per year. All of the students attending the school, with the exception of the early development classes, will be moved to Pine Crest Elementary School in Georgetown. The early development students will move to classrooms that will be created in the current unit district office space at Mary Miller Junior High.
The unit district offices will move to the high school building.