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Minooka District 111’s tax rate to exceed $2.34 promise

Two of district's three counties will see tax rate rise to $2.36.

Published: Friday, May 4, 2012 3:04 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA – Minooka Community High School's 2012 tax rate will exceed the promised rate of $2.34 in two of its three counties – Grundy and Kendall — which make up approximately 45 percent of the district’s property taxes.

In the spring of 2006, the Minooka Community High School District 111 Board of Education asked voters to help address the need for a second campus by approving a construction referendum that would result in a 32-cent property tax increase.

If the referendum were approved, the board offered to promise the community to not exceed the resulting tax rate of $2.34 for a period of eight years (2014), which is when enrollment projections portrayed the need for an additional construction project. The referendum was successful, and MCHS District 111 maintained an average tax rate of $2.31 for the next four years.

This rate average was well below the board’s promise to the community, and was maintained even when the economy took an unexpected turn and the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of properties began to drop.

When the board adopted its property tax levy request in November 2011, for tax bills to be issued in the spring of 2012, it did so based on the estimates available at that time that projected a 5.05-percent decrease in EAV. The levy request also included a reduction of $800,000 from the previous year, which would have resulted in a $2.33 property tax rate — one cent below the promised $2.34 rate that resulted from the 2006 referendum.

When the final assessments came in, they did so at a 7.7-percent decrease — an additional 2.65-percent decrease as compared to the estimates, which caused the tax rate to increase. Now, the district’s 2012 tax rate will exceed the promised rate in Grundy and Kendall and rise to $2.36.

Will County, which makes up the remaining 55 percent of the property taxes, will remain below the $2.34 level ($2.32).  Despite the higher tax rate, the district has still requested fewer dollars from taxpayers for two consecutive years.

“Our Board of Education has done an outstanding job with being fiscally responsible while being able to build fund balances for situations like this,” MCHS District 111 Superintendent Jim Colyott said.  “Their past efforts will play a vital role as we weather this storm.”

Due to decreases in residential property values in recent years, many homes may still see a decrease or little change in their property taxes paid to Minooka Community High School District 111. Even so, the board is committed to remaining good stewards of taxpayer support. 

“Our goal is to maximize student services while keeping the tax rate as low as possible,” MCHS District 111 Board of Education President Chris Kobe said. “We owe that to our students and we owe that to our taxpayers, and those efforts are aligned with Goal Four of our district’s Strategic Plan, which states that we will ‘ensure shared accountability for the attainment of district mission, vision and goals through the alignment of district resources.’”

“Everyone is dealing with the effects of change,” MCHS District 111 Board of Education member Jeff Wunderlich said. “There are a lot of things going on, but education of kids doesn’t go up and down like the economy.  It is our responsibility to provide a quality education and related opportunities for kids while being financially responsible.”

Last winter, the district announced a $2 million expenditure reduction plan that will be sustainable for two years, starting with the 2012-2013 school year. It also plans to use available fund balances to help address the challenges of declining revenues and a growing student population. In addition, the board will continue examining options for revenue enhancements, while challenging tax protests by local industries.

Nonetheless, Colyott said the district would continue to move forward with students as the primary focus.

“We will continue to provide quality educational and extracurricular opportunities for our students,” Colyott added. “Our district’s mission remains ‘to inspire and motivate students with an educational experience that leads to achievement and success,’ and we will continue to do everything we can to live that mission.”

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