22 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by cmptactical
Patch Instagram photo by patch

Summit Hill Board Approves $32.2M Levy Estimate

The approval will raise the district's estimated tax rate to approximately 3.7 percent.

Summit Hill Board Approves $32.2M Levy Estimate

The Summit Hill School District 161 Board of Education approved the 2012 tax levy estimate resolution at a special board meeting on Nov. 19. This is the same estimate that the board voted down on Nov. 14.

The approximately $32.2 million levy estimate requests a $1.55 million increase compared to last year’s finalized levy. The resolution raises the estimated tax rate to just above 3.7 percent. This translates to a $69 tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 house.

Board Members Denise Wildeveld, Sean William Doyle, Stacey Borgens and Board President Mary Kenny voted in favor of the levy estimate. Board Member George Perros, Secretary Denise Lenz and Vice President Joy Murphy voted against the levy.

Prior to the vote, community members spoke both in favor of and in opposition to the estimate resolution.

“If I have to tighten my belt, so do you guys,” said one public commenter. “You guys have to figure out what you’re doing wrong and fix it.”

The board considered two other levy estimate options, in addition to the estimate resolution that was approved.

Susan Krautstrunk, director of business and transportation for the district, presented the board with the option to maintain the current district tax rate of approximately 3.4 percent. If the district were to maintain its current rate, Summit Hill property owners would experience a $0 tax increase.

However, if the district opted not to raise the tax rate, schools would lose approximately $1.4 million due to the area’s shrinking tax base. This would force the board to consider expense reductions, such as eliminating the bus system, custodial outsourcing and increasing class sizes.

Krautstrunk also presented an alternative formula, under which the tax rate would total slightly less than 3.7 percent. This formula would increase district tax revenue by $1.2 million compared to the 2011 levy, but would tax homeowners the same amount as the approved estimate resolution.

In the near future, the district will need to provide $636,200 to cover the cost of mounted projectors, laptops, wireless access and other technology-related expenses. These project costs are necessary to assure the district’s compliance with new statewide Common Core Standards.

“Local taxpayers are absorbing all the mandates,” said Murphy. “At what point will it stop?”

In an interview after Monday’s meeting, Kenny told Patch that voting in favor of a lower levy would limit the amount of levy funds the board is able to approve in the future. Kenny also said that requesting fewer tax dollars could detrimentally impact Summit Hill’s bond rating when district bonds are refinanced in 2015.

With the district currently in an approximately $650,000 deficit, Kenny said that it was important to remember that maintaining the school district is necessary in order to preserve home values in the area.

“We have always tried to be reasonable,” said Kenny. “Looking at the big picture, I just feel that we have to do some things that are painful.” 

A district levy hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12. Following the hearing, the board will vote to approve the levy.

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