The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 12, 2013

School District 118 adopts levy plan

Board holds line on taxes for next year

BY CAROL ROEHM
The Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Danville School District 118 board members voted 5-1 Wednesday to adopt a tax levy plan in which the district will collect no new dollars next year.

Of the four options presented to them in October, board members selected the option that calls for the district to collect no new tax dollars beyond the amount it collected this year.

The 2013 tax rate, payable in 2014, will be set at $5.31 per $100 equalized assessed valuation (EAV), which is an increase of 0.04 percent in tax revenue compared with this year’s tax rate of $5.06 per $100 EAV. But even if the district levies for a 0 percent increase or decrease, it still will collect 3.6 percent less funds than this year because of a projected 3.6 percent decrease in property values.

The owner of a $66,500 home could see a range between a $5 decrease to an increase of $39 on his or her tax bill next year depending on whether the property has been reassessed recently.

With this tax levy, the district will have to adjust its non-restricted funds in its budget to cover expenditures since no new additional money will be coming into the district’s coffers. The district will use its current fund balances to cover the difference until the fund balances are depleted.

“We won’t receive any more than the current rate in the restricted funds,” business director Heather Smith said.

Board member Lon Henderson asked whether the new Kohl’s, TJ Maxx and Meijer would affect tax revenue, but Smith said the new businesses already were factored into the 3.6 percent decrease in EAV estimated by the county assessor.

The 3.6 percent decrease in the district’s EAV for 2013 includes a 6 percent decrease in Danville Township, a 4 percent increase in Blount Township, 0 percent increase/decrease in Catlin and Newell townships, 10 percent increase in farmland, a loss of $2.96 million in EAV from Carle because it is now tax exempt and additional EAV losses due to increased exemptions.

Smith told board members that because of the area’s decreasing property values, “If you keep compounding, we’ve lost $8 million of what we could have received (in tax revenue) since 2009.”

Board member Darlene Halloran said she received one message from a community member asking the board “be fiscally responsible” and not raise taxes, but received many more messages to raise taxes if it meant preserving education programs.

Board member Steve Bragorgos, however, said no one he spoke with supported raising taxes. He said the district should use its reserves to prop up other funds rather than raise taxes.

“You can move that to different funds and it should last you eight years,” he proposed.

Smith replied, “No.”

“Okay, five years then,” Bragorgos said, to which Smith replied, “No. We wouldn’t last a year.”

“This is a very distressed community and to raise taxes on anybody is unbelievable,” Bragorgos said. “We have $15 million in reserves. We’re not broke. We’re not even close.

“We do not need to raise taxes on anybody if we can afford pension spiking, 4 to 5 percent pay increases and free insurance,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, board members:

COMING UP

The District 118 school board will hold its next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St.