Urbana school board approves 5 percent higher tax levy

URBANA — The Urbana school board approved a preliminary tax levy for next year at its Tuesday business meeting. It will ask for about $29.1 million next year, about 5 percent more than it received last year.

Last year, it asked for about $28.5 million and received about $27.7 million.

The levy will come up for final approval in December.

Carol Baker, the school district's director of business, said Carle Foundation Hospital hasn't yet applied for a property-tax exemption but is expected to.

Changes to the law mean if Carle applies, it will receive the exemption.

That would mean the school district's property-tax rate would go up, but the school board could abate higher tax rates before the end of next February.

The district currently gets about $1.6 million in property-tax money from Carle but sets that money aside because of pending lawsuits regarding property-tax exemptions.

The board also unanimously approved spending about $124,000 on new switches and battery backup for the district's computer network at Urbana Middle School.

The current switches are no longer repairable and the middle school's network has had "major outages" in the last 10 school days, according to documents supplied to the school board. The middle school is the main hub of the district's network, and all its servers are there, said Don Owen, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Board member Paul Poulosky called the purchase "an absolute necessity."

"It really is the plumbing that any sort of a big organization needs to do work nowadays," he said, adding that the district's security cameras and thermostats run on the network. "This really is infrastructure."

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