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District 15 discusses raising tax levy

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 4:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 11:20 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – With state pension issues unresolved and health insurance costs in flux, the District 15 school board is tentatively set to raise its levy for next year.

The board discussed the levy at its meeting Tuesday evening, settling on an increase of 8.74 percent for its operating funds, said Mark Bertolozzi, the district’s chief financial officer.

The district doesn’t expect to get anywhere near that amount, though, because it is subject to the state tax cap, which ties levy increases to the rate of inflation plus any new growth.

With the rate of inflation estimated at 1.7 percent for 2012, the district expects to bring in an additional $850,000, Bertolozzi said.

That would translate to an increase of about $30 for the owner of a property valued at $200,000, he said. That does not take into consideration the district’s debt service levy, which is also set to increase, or what other taxing bodies decide to do.

District 156, the high school district that covers the same geographic area, is set to discuss the levy at its Monday school board meeting.

Finance Director Dave Lawson recommended a balloon levy – a levy that asks for more than the district expects to get – at an October finance committee meeting.

Unlike District 156, District 15 has a healthy amount of reserves in the bank.

The district had about $38 million, or the equivalent of 289 days of cash on hand, in the bank, according to a 2012 financial report. In ranking the financial health of districts, the state sets 180 days as the minimum to receive its top score.

“We’re in good shape and we’re grateful for that, but federal and state funding has been delayed and reduced, pension reform is looming and we have no idea what it’s going to be,” Bertolozzi said. “There’s a lot in flux right now.”

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