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District 15 approves levy increase

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 12:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 12:08 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – Property owners can expect to pay an extra $30 on average to District 15 in property taxes next year, its chief financial officer said.

The District 15 school board voted 5-2 for an 8.74 percent increase to its levy at its meeting Tuesday, although it only expects to see about 1.7 percent of that increase.

Board Secretary John O’Neill and board member Erik Sivertsen voted against the levy increase.

A state tax cap ties the amount that local taxing bodies, including school districts, can increase their levies by to the rate of inflation plus new growth.

With not much expected in new growth, the district expects to collect only the $768,000 it is allowed under inflation, bringing the district’s levy to $46 million.

“We’re in a time of fiscal uncertainty, certainly from the federal and state governments,” District 15 Superintendent Alan Hoffman said. “The government isn’t always paying their bills. Sometimes they prorate them. Sometimes they don’t pay them at all.”’

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.

The board is set to use its surplus to pay off debt certificates, saving the district $535,000 in interest, said Mark Bertolozzi, the district’s chief financial officer. It directed staff to put together details on how that would work.

The district still will hold general obligation bonds, which were taken out for various capital improvements, including the construction of McHenry Middle School, Bertolozzi said. Those loans cannot be retired early.

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