MINOOKA — Thanks to some super sleuthing on the part of Minooka Grade School Superintendent Al Gegenheimer and the assistance of officials from Grundy, Kendall and Will counties, District 201 should be getting more than half a million dollars in increased general state aid.
One of the confusing things about the general state aid formula, which is used to determine how much aid each school district receives, is that it is based on a previous year’s equalized assessed valuation (EAV).
The most recent general state aid formulas are based on previous years with explosive residential growth. That has put both District 201 and Minooka Community High School District 111 in what the state determines is a wealthy district category. This reduces the amount of aid they receive, Gegenheimer said.
The general state aid formula for fiscal year 2013 will be based on the district’s EAV from 2010. That year’s EAV was originally $19 million higher before Dynegy Energy and local taxing bodies came to a property tax settlement agreement a year ago. The agreement requires the districts to reimburse Dynegy for property taxes based on that portion of the EAV.
“The state thinks we are wealthy,” Gegenheimer said. “We have a lot of EAV wealth, but not the operating tax rate to use it.”
Gegenheimer spent a lot of time going through the district’s finances and consequently contacted Ralph Haldorson, a retired school superintendent, who works with school districts to help them to recalculate their EAV for state aid purposes to reflect the most accurate one available.
“Haldorson knows more about the general state aid formula than the folks at the state do,” Gegenheimer said.
What Haldorson found was that the 2011 tax bills, based on the 2010 levy, went out before the Dynegy settlement took place. The school districts never had access to the $19 million in EAV from Dynegy, but the state assumed it was part of the tax base for both Minooka District 201 and Minooka District 111.
For District 201, that meant a reduction in state aid of $450,000. For Minooka High School District, the reduction was about $100,000, Gegenheimer said.
Haldorson also discovered that District 201 did not receive a credit for lost EAV associated with Macy’s abatement agreement. The district will get another reduction of nearly $3 million from their EAV, resulting in additional state aid of $50,000.
The counties worked with Gegenheimer and Haldorson to figure ways to correct the inconsistencies. It was a new process for all parties, Gegenheimer said.
“This hasn’t been done before in this school district,” he said.
If the information had been discovered after June 15 of this year, the districts would have received only 10 cents on the dollar through the general state aid formula instead of the entire amount.
“The state has accepted this and it’s going to generate a half million dollars in state aid for our taxpayers,” said Gegenheimer. “In total, these efforts will save the taxpayers in our community about $600,000 in revenue.”