The community meeting was set up to bring into the open
the present financial circumstances at Lincoln Community High School
and to get input from the community on their thoughts about the
strengths and weaknesses of the school.
Bagby did a slide presentation to show how revenues have dropped in
the school district and explained how the board would be considering
ways to trim $1 million from the school's annual $7.8 million
budget. Bagby assured the group that with such a reduction, the
school would be on solid ground for the next five years
Bagby on several occasions said that the school isn't in
immediate financial jeopardy and is not on the state's financial
warning list. He explained that at current expense levels, LCHS
could go on for two years. But neither he nor the school board wants
to just sit back and wait for a budget crisis hammer to fall.
"Some schools make things happen, some schools watch things
happen, and some schools say, ‘What just happened?'" Bagby said.
Bagby said that he and the school board at LCHS were determined
to be proactive and be a school that makes things happen.
One chart offered by Bagby showed that in district tax rates,
LCHS is a bargain to local taxpayers.
The 2008 tax rate on property was at $2.07 per $100 of assessed
evaluation, compared with $2.21 per $100 in 1995.
In comparison, in 2008 Mount Pulaski was at $4.72 per $100 per
assessed evaluation, District 27 at $5.21, Hartsburg-Emden at $5.57
and New Holland-Middletown at $5.76.
Another issue that the superintendent illustrated was that in
2000, property in the district had $3,983,141 of estimated assessed
value abated with the tax rate of $1.90890. This equated to
$76,034.18 in property taxes abated.
In 2008, the amount of estimated assessed value
abated had reached $11,991,465, or $248,657.43 new taxable revenue
if economic incentives were not in place.
In all, abated property tax revenue to the district totaled
$1,123,426.16 since 2000.
Bagby made it clear the information was for reference and was not
"We all want new jobs. We all want our best and brightest
students to be able to stay home and come back after college," he
Bagby called it a "double-edged sword." He said that everyone
wants economic development and it is needed. (See editor's note on
enterprise zone and property tax abatement
Bagby went on to say that the district's financial concerns also
have to do with declining enrollment -- from 1,100 students to 866
in the last decade -- and the fact that the state is behind on
payments, besides not paying its fair share to begin with. Bagby
referred to declining enrollment and revenues as a "double whammy."
He noted Illinois was ranked 48th or 49th in school funding and
mentioned that the school just received a state payment that was due
Later, during replies from the audience, Bagby said the school
receives an estimated $6,000 in state support per student. A quick
calculation shows that for a decline 234 students, this would amount
to a loss of nearly $1.5 million in revenue -- $1,404,000, to be
Many considerations will be looked at by the LCHS school board.
Included are not replacing retiring school staff, including a
retiring administrator, but Bagby stressed it will be the school
board that makes the final decisions.
There was no discussion of layoffs or nonrenewal of teaching
contracts, and Bagby didn't want it to be thought that just reducing
costs by cutting jobs was the only way to go.
"Young teachers buy houses, they have children, they become a
part of the community," he said.
He mentioned that creation of new revenue streams was also being
looked at by the administration and the school board.
In the second part of the two-hour meeting, Joyce Hubbard, LCHS
principal, asked the group to say what they liked about the school,
as well as what their concerns were.
Several adults made a case for the importance of extracurricular
activities, including fine arts and speech, as well as the trades
being taught at the school.
Truancy and the high dropout rate were also concerns, and Hubbard
agreed but said she had no ready answer to those problems.
[to top of second column]
In conclusion Bagby stressed that it would be the school board,
headed by president Rick Hobler, who would be making decisions on
budget cuts and that there are many and varied areas being looked at
to take $1 million out of the budget.
Hobler told the group that no final decisions have
been made on cuts yet and that the board would make decisions that
have the least impact on the education of the children.
Past related articles
It is important for residents to understand that business
property taxes do not, and have not decreased due to the enterprise
zone. It is not tax revenue that has been lost. Rather, taxes on
business property improvements will increase and provide additional
revenue to local government, including LCHS, in the future.
The enterprise zone is a state-sponsored program that allows
communities to offer specified incentives to help current businesses
with expansions or to attract new businesses. It serves as a tool
for communities to stimulate growth, which means increased tax
revenues through jobs, sales and property taxes, which thereby
supports government bodies, gives businesses a running start and
improves the business climate for a community.
One incentive in the program is through property tax abatement.
Normally when a property is improved, the assessed value goes up,
and thereby the taxes are increased.
The abatement is only on the increased assessed value
of the property due to improvements.
The property owner continues to pay what was being paid in taxes
before the improvements.
So, there is no loss of property taxes to schools or other
government due to the enterprise zone.
Five years after each contract begins, a business starts paying
50 percent of taxes on the improved property value, and after
10 years the full amount of new property taxes is being paid.
In 10 years, an enterprise zone property is bringing in
significantly more taxes than there would have been without the
improvements, plus, there is more business coming into a community,
due to the expansion or addition of the business.
The superintendent recognized that there will be increases from
property taxes as these properties with improvements begin to pay
more into the tax base.
For more information:
Lincoln/Logan County Enterprise Zone
Incentives for Capital Improvements
Send a letter to the editor on what you think the school can do
to save money, create revenue or what needs to be preserved: