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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Nov. 16, 2017

Bigger increase expected in D181 property tax levy

By Pamela Lannom

With rising costs for salaries and benefits and the need for major capital improvement projects, District 181 board members are likely to set the property tax levy as high as they can.
   That was the recommendation Monday night from Mohsin Dada, chief financial officer for the district. He suggested the board set the levy, or annual request for property tax revenue, at $60.4 million for the district’s operating funds, which is up $2.07 million or 3.6 percent from last year’s amount.
   He noted the district has few revenue streams on which to rely. Federal and state funds and other local revenue are projected to total less than $6 million of the $66.7 million preliminary budget for 2018-19.
   “Close to 91 percent of our resources come from local property tax owners,” he told board members.
   The tax cap limits the increase in the levy to 5 percent or the previous year’s consumer price index, whichever is lower, plus an amount for new growth. The CPI for the 2017 levy will be 2.1 percent, which will generate about $1.2 million of revenue. If new construction comes in at the estimated $35 million, the district can collect another $802,000.
   Even with the levy set at the highest allowable amount, the district faces a $1.4 million deficit in the 2018-19 budget. That budget includes almost $2 million for four capital projects: new roofs at Elm and The Lane schools, a new chiller at Clarendon Hills Middle School and a new parking lot at Oak School.
   For that reason, Dada said he was only going to recommend a single levy amount when the board takes its official vote in December. Previously the board has reviewed multiple levy options and has voted to collect less than allowed by law. Levy increase since 2013 have ranged from 1.7 percent to 2.3 percent.
   “If I were to give you a lesser than CPI number, it’s just going to leave a bigger hole in the budget,” Dada said.
   Board members agreed they preferred not to “levy to the max,” but many said they saw no other choice. Marty Turek was in the minority when he said he wants to see other levy amounts presented in December and suggested some of the facilities work could be postponed.
   “I don’t think the taxpayers are going to go for it,” he said of the $2 million planned maintenance work.
   Other board members said most of the work on the $20 million facilities master plan is being postponed and voiced support for Dada’s recommendation.
   Board President Jennifer Burns said the need for two new roofs and the chiller, which add up to almost $1.5 million, is immediate.
   “I don’t want to use the word ‘emergencies,’ but my concern is if we don’t address those in the upcoming year, then they will become emergencies and will become much more expensive to address and create a lot of angst for parents,” she said.
   Board member Rich Giltner supported the levy amount as well.
   “I feel like we don’t really have a choice and I feel the board as a whole has earned credibility in the community because we have not taken the max every year,” he said.    “We’ve taken what we need and this year we need it.”
   The proposed levy includes an abatement for $480,000 in the bond and interest fund so the repayment schedule for bonds sold for HMS construction will mirror the promises made to taxpayers before the referendum was approved.
   The board is expected to approve the final levy when it meets Monday, Dec. 18.



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