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Minooka District 201 keeps promise despite cost

Board lowers district's tax rate in order to erase gain from equalization

Published: Friday, April 27, 2012 3:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 3:23 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA — While getting an additional $48,000 might sound like a good thing for Minooka Grade School District 201, Superintendent Al Gegenheimer knew better.

Kendall County, one of three counties the district resides within, made an adjustment on the district’s tax rate for 2011 because its multiplier in the district’s tort immunity fund was too high. The county increased the multiplier in that fund by 0.02 percent to make up for the difference.

The increase in Kendall County’s multiplier ultimately raises the district’s property tax multiplier, putting Minooka Grade School District above its promised not-to-exceed rate of 2.9643 percent, said Gegenheimer.

“I about fell off my chair when I got this and they said they owed us $48,000,” Gegenheimer said.

The board of education took action Wednesday night and lowered the district own levy rate by 0.02 percent, in affect abating a portion of taxes. The abatement holds the district’s taxes at the promised rate.

The board promised taxpayers the district would not exceed the 2.9643 percent tax rate for five years if residents approved a bond referendum to build two new schools and renovate two others to keep up with the growth rate.

This is the fifth year of that promise, said Gegeneheimer.

“The board has kept their promise the entire time,” he said.

But does that mean residents can expect a tax increase from the district next year?

“In fact, the tax rate could go lower or higher, there’s no promise (now),” Gegenheimer said. “Our board is committed to keeping our rate as low as we can. But we also have a commitment to keep our schools running.”

UNDER BUDGET

In another financial matter, Gegenheimer reported to the board that although the district is at the point when it would have typically spent 80 percent of the yearly budget, all but one fund is under budget at the moment.

“We are really in good shape,” Gegenheimer said. “We are about 10 to 15 percent under budget.”

At the same time, the district has only received 55 percent of its yearly revenue at this point.

While property taxes will soon start coming in, the state of Illinois is behind in its payments by $2.5 million, which has been allocated to the district but not paid. The state has until December 31 to pay, which puts the money into the next fiscal year.

Gegenheimer gave kudos to the department heads and educators for working with the board to keep the budget on track.

One concern he has is that he may have overestimated property tax revenue by about $2 million.

“We expected $12 million, but that may be closer to $10 million,” Gegenheimer said.

He is also closely watching the education fund, and said he would keep the board posted. A third concern is that the district IMRF contribution has been increased by a half percent.

“It’s low, but it automatically increases our costs,” Gegenheimer said.

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