News of Carle exemption leaves no 'time to react' for Urbana schools
URBANA — The Urbana school district will lose more than $3 million this year because of a property tax exemption, but the school district found out too late to make cuts this year.
Urbana school board President John Dimit said the school district will continue to spend carefully, but is careful to make cuts on a systematic basis.
"We just don't have time to react," Dimit said after the board's Tuesday meeting.
During the meeting, several administrators gave board members more details about what the tax exemption has meant and will mean for the district.
Superintendent Preston Williams reminded board members that Carle has been in litigation with local taxing bodies since 2004 over property taxes.
Director of Business Carol Baker said the exemption granted to Carle because of new legislation includes additional properties than those that have been in question before, which total "an additional $1.4 million in lost tax revenue for this year."
The school district has been saving property tax money from Carle in escrow. That amount totals about $10 million over the last eight years.
However, the school district has lost out on nearly $8 million in general state aid during those years, Baker told the school board, because the state board of education bases aid on how much a district collects in property taxes, "regardless of if we are able to spend it."
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Don Owen, who will become the district's superintendent this summer, told the board the property tax exemption won't interfere with the school district's mission and dedication to Urbana's students and families.
Board member Peggy Patten said she's heard from community members who are concerned both about their property taxes and about the school district and other local taxing bodies.
Some have contacted their legislators, she said, and Williams agreed that citizens should do so. He also suggested those who are concerned should call the Illinois State Board of Education.
Dimit pointed out during the meeting that Champaign County's two largest employers, the University of Illinois and Carle, are both expanding and have taken over properties that used to provide property tax revenue. Yet their employees might not necessarily reside in Urbana.
"It does unduly influence our ability to maintain an appropriate financial revenue compared to other districts that are property-tax rich," Dimit said. "You don't have to go very far away to see the inequity."