District 67 plans meetings on tax hike, bond referendums
Updated: August 13, 2012 6:44AM
MORTON GROVE — Resident of Morton Grove Elementary School District 67 will be asked to rank four alternatives for one or two referendums the district plans to place on the November ballot.
The school board’s Finance Committee on July 5 scheduled two open-house events at Golf Middle School, 9401 Waukegan Road. Both will be from 5-8:30 p.m. July 25 and Aug. 7.
Superintendent Jamie Reilly said anyone attending those meetings can come for as long as they want to visit four stations.
The events will include a PowerPoint presentation on the district’s financial problems and the proposals, the district’s business manager and financial consultant, and members of the district’s Financial Advisory Committee. Reilly and Hynes School Principal Carol Westley will also be available to answer questions those nights.
Residents who attend the meetings will be able to learn about the different options officials are considering and use computers set up at the meetings to take an online survey and rank the four alternatives, as well as to offer additional comments.
The Financial Advisory Committee, which has been helping the district plan the referendums, will compile the results and provide them to the school board’s Finance Committee. The full board plans to vote on the actual referendum language Aug. 16 in time to place the measures on the November ballot.
In March a proposal to sell $9.782 million in bonds was defeated by just 20 votes.
A second measure asking voters to increase the maximum tax rate .342 percent to $2,401 per $100 equalized assessed valuation was defeated by 112 votes with low voter turnout of just 24 percent.
The first alternative the board is considering in November would eliminate the facilities-bond sale for now and just put a tax-increase referendum on the ballot. It would raise the same $1.14 million a year in additional revenue in the education fund as the March referendum, but would actually cause the tax rate to increase more because of a decline of about 8 percent in the equalized assessed valuation of the district.
In addition Reilly said the multiplier, applied to residential property in Cook County, is expected to go down another 5.2 percent based on a three-year average, further reducing property-tax revenue.
As a result Reilly said that in March the district had projected that a Morton Grover homeowner would pay an additional $47 per $1,000 of equalized assessed valuation; that figure is now up to $66.
For Niles homeowner the amount would increase to $72 from $51 to raise the same amount of new revenue.
The second alternative the district is considering would include the same tax-hike referendum and add a second nearly $8-million bond-issue referendum to pay for a new gym at Hynes School. That is needed to meet state requirements that the district offer physical education five days a week.
The third alternative calls for the same tax increase, but ups the amount of the bond sale to $9.7 million, the same as the amount that nearly passed in March.
In addition to the gym, that would pay for other improvements, including additional parking, traffic reconfigurations and new diesel generators.
The fourth alternative would include the bond sale and a larger tax-rate increase that the district has not determined. Reilly said it would be geared toward compensating for projected continued decreases in the equalized assessed valuation of the district.
In addition, she said, officials are concerned that the Illinois General Assembly will shift at least some of the cost of teachers’ pensions to individual districts. A measure that would have done that was pulled in the last session, but Reilly said it is likely to resurface.
“It’s quite a conundrum to try and determine what the state’s going to do to shift more costs to the districts,” Reilly said.
The district has been using up its reserve funds in order to maintain basic educational programs while cutting other activities, such as clubs and sports, or offering them with higher fees.
The district also has frozen administrators’ salaries and gained concessions from the Golf Teachers’ Association.
The last time district voters approved a referendum was in 1969.