Approved Danville schools' tax levy could mean loss of $712,000

DANVILLE — School board members on Wednesday adopted a tax levy for 2012, which could mean a $712,000 loss in property-tax revenue during the next fiscal year.

Board members voted 4-3 to approve a revised proposal that levies the same amount for the restricted funds — education, fire prevention/safety, operations building maintenance, transportation, working cash, special education and technology lease — and non-restricted funds — Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Social Security and tort — as was levied in 2011.

Under that option, the total tax rate would go from about $5.03 per $100 of assessed valuation to $5.07.

However, officials anticipate that the district's equalized assessed valuation will decrease by 5.4 percent next year. If that occurs, the restricted fund amounts would decrease, and the district would only generate $15.5 million without bond and interest, instead of the $16.21 million raised this year.

"It could be a little better or it could be worse," Superintendent Mark Denman said, adding officials won't know the actual rate until April.

Board President Bill Dobbles and members Randal Ashton and Greg Hilleary voted against that version and voted in favor of an original proposal that would bring in about $15.89 million in taxes without bond and interest.

That proposal still would have meant a loss, but only $325,314 less than this year's income.

However, board members Frank Young, Gina McGuire, Dan Brown and Steve Bragorgos, who participated via speakerphone, rejected that plan because the total tax rate would have gone from about $5.03 per $100 of assessed valuation to about $5.19.

"People are hurting. They can't pay more money. We have to start reflecting that," Young said.

But Dobbles and Ashton said the board has a responsibility to ensure the district has proper funding to provide a quality education. The district has lost more than $2 million in property-tax income over the past four years, as well as state and federal funding.

"We all agree we don't want taxes to go up, but sometimes we have to make tough decisions to move ahead," Ashton said, who also said the situation underscores the need for a change in how education is funded.

Business and finance director Heather McKiernan said the district will need to pull from other fund reserves to cover the shortfalls.

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