Urbana school board approves $10 million tax-levy increase

Urbana school board approves $10 million tax-levy increase

URBANA — Owners of real estate in the Urbana school district could see slightly higher school taxes next year.

On Tuesday, the Urbana school board voted 7-0 to approve its 2017 tax levy.

A year ago, $37,466,826 was extended in property taxes. The school board is asking for $47,363,091 in the new levy, but it likely won't get that much due to factors such as tax caps and the rate of inflation.

Tax extensions cannot increase more than the Consumer Price Index, currently at 2.1 percent, though schools can benefit from any new construction. But the district is asking for more than 2.1 percent in an effort to receive all the tax money it is entitled to.

"Because each year's cap is based on what was received the previous year, if we elect not to take advantage of the full increase allowed, we lose that revenue for every succeeding year," said Chief Financial Officer Carol Baker.

The district's tax situation is complicated further by the ongoing deliberation over the taxable status of the Carle and Presence hospitals in the city.

According to Baker, the current school district tax rate is $5.9249 per $100 of assessed valuation, meaning the owner of a $100,000 home with standard exemptions paid $1,975 in Urbana school taxes this year.

With the levy approved Tuesday, Baker predicts the new tax rate will be $5.9487 per $100 of assessed valuation. Based on that rate, the owner of a $100,000 home with standard exemptions will pay $1,983 in 2018, or $8 more than this year.

In other business, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Samuel Byndom discussed the district's new state report card.

According to the report, 20.4 percent of Urbana's 4,331 students are ready for the next educational level, the district has an 86 percent graduation rate and the district has an 83 percent teacher retention rate.

The study showed that 36 percent of district students are black, 35 percent are white, 14 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are Asian.

The report said 71 percent of Urbana public school students come from low income families, 16 percent have disabilities and 2 percent are homeless.

The district spends more money than the state average on its students. The report says that Urbana spends $7,931 per student on instruction, as compared to an average of $7,853 per pupil statewide. The district spends $13,835 per student on overall operations, as compared to an average of $12,973 per pupil statewide.

Sections (2):News, Local