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Budget revisions approved for District 158

HUNTLEY – The District 158 school board took a glimpse into its financial future Thursday, while finally shoring up its present budget that includes added costs from a new teacher contract.

Using current economic conditions, Mark Altmayer, the district’s chief financial officer, projected four years into the future and forecast relatively flat property tax levies being driven by modest real estate development.

But the hazard with predicting the future, Altmayer said, is the many unknowns from the state legislature, including the well-publicized pension reform proposal that would shift retirement costs to local school districts.

“We would have very little to kick down the road to balance our budget next year,” Altmayer said. “But we all know there is still a lot of unknowns that aren’t baked into this plan.”

Another potential hazard includes a bill state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, introduced last year that would limit local governments’ ability to raise property taxes, if they experienced a decline in property values.

Property taxes are the largest source of income for the Huntley-based District 158 and other districts in Illinois. Altmayer also said the district has no exact way of knowing whether the state will try to cut eduction in the future.

Overall, the district projects a modest $78,500 surplus next year, followed by deficits ranging from $385,500 to $639,500 the following three years. Altmayer also estimated general state aid to be further reduced, but still projected state revenues to remain flat at roughly $14 million a year.

After looking into their future, board members unanimously endorsed a revised, $81.5 million budget for the year that is dipped further in red ink.

The district’s updated spending plan now has a $1.69 million deficit, or a $237,600 deeper hole than the budget that the board approved in September. The new teacher contract that was finalized in the fall, added about $522,000 in added costs for the year.

But Altmayer said that the district should end the year with a $1.4 million surplus, if the state makes its payments on time.

In other business, the board officially started moving on its plan to renovate Huntley High School’s athletic fields.

The project that would add synthetic football turf, more stadium seating and a built-in irrigation system for baseball and soccer fields is a part of a broader, $12 million plan to expand the school to accommodate the 3,000 students projected to roam the halls by 2019.

Members unanimously selected Lamp Inc. from Elgin to oversee the athletic renovations that officials hope will be ready by the start of the coming school year in August.

The board also unanimously signaled its intent to have FieldTurf USA Inc. install the synthetic football turf at the price tag of $513,238. The board weighed the vendor versus other proposals submitted through a governmental purchasing network.

The move allows the board to bypass the traditional bidding process and accelerate the installation. The board will vote on a final agreement with FieldTurf in the spring.

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