Rantoul school board adopts tax levy

Rantoul school board adopts tax levy

RANTOUL – The Rantoul City Schools board adopted a $4.11 million property-tax levy that includes an increase more than twice the size of the increase the district is likely to receive.

"Do we think we'll get $4.11 million?" Superintendent Bill Trankina asked. "Just the opposite. This is a fudge factor because the tax year isn't over."

The levy of 2008 property taxes, payable in 2009, totals $4.11 million. That is an increase of 11.5 percent over the $3.69 million that the district received last year.

Trankina said the increase is more likely to be 4 percent to 4.5 percent.

Based on an equalized assessed value of $111.2 million, the tax rate would be $3.5736 per $100 of assessed value, up from $3.1847 last year.

Like many other school districts in Champaign County, Rantoul City Schools levies more than it expects to receive because it is bound by a 5 percent tax cap.

The oversized levy ensures the district will receive every possible penny of revenue. It also takes into account unknown factors such as the value of new construction and the impact of assessment reduction requests awaiting the Board of Review.

There are currently four reduction requests pending review, totaling $4 million.

Noting that the levy process is frequently misunderstood by the public, Trankina showed the board a comparison of the increases requested and those actually received between 2003 and 2007.

Requests ranged from 8.9 percent to 11.69 percent. Actual increases ranged from 3.9 percent to 4.57 percent.

The tax cap allows the district to receive a maximum increase equal to 5 percent or the cost-of-living increase, whichever is less.

Trankina also responded to comments that the district should freeze the levy at last year's level, as the Rantoul Village Board has done.

"Given the financial circumstances everyone is experiencing, it is even less prudent to take action that would compound over time," he said. The smaller the increase now, the less money the district will receive over time, eventually leading to program cuts, he added.

The district is also responding to the current weak economy by deferring as many renovation projects as possible.

"Given the financial times, we are not recommending any major renovation projects until we know what's happening in the economy, our country and our state," he said.