Tax levy presentation
A short presentation was given by
Superintendent Jennifer Hamm on the subject of the tax levy for
She provided a quick summary of how
the tax levy process works:
In November, the
proposed levy is presented to the board of education.
In December, the
levy is passed by the board after any discussion and given to
the county clerk's office.
April, the county clerk releases the equalized assessed
valuation and the extension for the next fiscal year.
In July, the first installment of taxes
is received by the school.
Hamm also reminded those present that the school year is funded
by previous tax dollars. For example, the current school year is
funded with 2011 tax dollars.
As the law requires that the county clerk's office collects tax
levy data by the last Tuesday of December, the school has to
estimate any potential increase in residential and commercial
property values within the district.
If the board's estimate is too low, they could lose tax dollars.
Estimating above 4.99 percent would normally result in a
presentation being given to the public to explain the reasoning for
raising the tax levy; such a presentation will not be necessary this
Hamm informed the board that the only change made to the tax levy
plan was a reduction in IMRF money. This reduction was made in order
to provide more available money for the school tort fund in order to
pay legal fees that will arise when the school sells alternate
revenue bonds to pay for school improvements.
The amount of $1,746,586 would be requested at the same the rate
as last year, 2.70 percent.
The tax levy was approved later, during the actual meeting.
Kenny Golden, board president, asked that everyone present remain
silent for a brief moment after the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of
those who died in Connecticut on Dec. 14.
Board member Leslie Starasta formally stepped down as board
secretary in order to take on the role of treasurer. The treasurer
will also be taking on the duties of the business and compliance
officer, a position formerly held by Karen Beverlin. Board member
Tina Warfel took on the position of secretary.
Board member Ben Roland took Golden's place as vice president,
and the board accepted Golden as the new president. The former
president, Keith Birnbaum, stepped down from the position in
November, citing a conflict with other priorities that required his
Kenda Kitner was also officially sworn in to take her place on
the school board. Kitner is replacing Joel Vinson, who also resigned
from the board last month to pursue other priorities outside of the
Another aspect of board procedure that was addressed is a
rewriting of language within board policy. While no changes are
being made, a part of the policy has been rewritten to better
reflect the rules of public interaction with the board.
Jeff Brooks, a former board president, believes that the change
in language will discourage public participation. "This is stifling
the community from public input," said Brooks.
Jim Rohrer told the board that he does not understand why any
changes are being made, and he feels that the board is using this as
a way to isolate themselves from public input.
Starasta commented later in the meeting that the board is simply
looking to make the definition clearer as to what a public comment
at a board meeting should be.
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Golden clarified that "the role of the public comment section is
not for interaction between the board; it is for the public to make
statements to the board. ... If there are questions that need to be
answered, they can be taken down (recorded)."
Essentially, the board meetings are not for the public to
question individual board members. Rather, the meetings are for
concerns to be brought forward. It is up to the board members to
address those questions at future meetings. The public gives the
board direction as to how to focus their time.
"I would agree that it doesn't seem to be the best format, but
remember that our meetings are business meetings," added Golden, who
said that this is how other schools in the area conduct their
Hamm reminded everyone that the board has a quarterly forum for
questions and interactions with the public. Hamm also said that the
board is to operate as a whole, not as individuals.
Roland said that the same procedure is used by the city and
county officials at their meetings. "I don't see anything here that
is more restrictive than what our colleagues in the community have,"
Starasta said that the board members are available to be
contacted in other ways for members of the public to voice concerns.
Paying for renovations
In order to pay for renovations that will be made to the school
over the next few years, the school will sell financial bonds. Hamm
provided paperwork to the board from Stifel Nicolaus, the company
that CEL will be working with to sell the bonds.
Alternate revenue bonds will be sold in an amount not to exceed
$1.8 million. The board assured those present that they are not
intending to call on the maximum amount.
Starasta summarized by saying that the board can use up to $1.8
million in this manner, but as they are still looking at designs to
determine exactly where to start, no set number has been decided on.
"It is potentially possible that we could come in under the 1.8,
and we have some flexibility in making some decisions along the
way," said Starasta.
As the money used to pay for the bonds will be from the 1 percent
sales tax, the tax cannot be taken from the district by any new
state law until the payments are completed.
This money will be used in addition to $1 million provided by
health-life-safety funds as approved by the state.
Tom Crabtree of Stifel Nicolaus told the board that their action
taken on Dec. 18 was simply to announce their intent formally,
and the actual bonds could be sold in February.
Jean Underwood of BLDD was present to tell the board that they
are expecting to see more detailed designs of the renovations in
Board members present were Kenny Golden, president; Ben Roland,
vice president; Tina Warfel; Larry Hall; Leslie Starasta; Kenda
Kitner; and Superintendent Jennifer Hamm.
[By DEREK HURLEY]
Chester-East Lincoln 2012 tax levy information
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