I.S.D. School District 166 sets levy
Dec 21, 2018 06:37AM
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - December 21, 2018
The Cook County School Board I.S.D. 166 adopted the 2018 levy payable in 2019 at its regular meeting on Thursday, December 13.
Approved was a 2019 levy of $1,855. It is a 7.64 percent increase over 2018. Residential homestead owners will pay $13.83 per $100,000 more than they spent last year for the school portion of their Cook County 2019 levy.
Who pays for the school levy? All Cook County property owners including seasonal and recreational property owners contribute to the I.S.D. 166 school levy. Each property tax statement has four entities that make up the final proposed tax bill: County, city, school district and special taxing entities (i.e., hospital).
Each of these entities sets its own levy and each has its individual public meetings.
As required by law, the district held its Truth in Taxation meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. with no one from the public commenting at the meeting. District Business Manager Lori Backlund presented a 2018-2019 budget overview during the Truth in Taxation meeting. She also gave a levy comparison from 2011 to the present.
School District I.S.D. 166 held a large sale of miscellaneous items last week that were taking up a lot of storage space that the district is short of. When the sale was done most of the items had been sold and two good things happened. The district cleared room for items it needs stored and the district made $600. Staff photo/Brian Larsen
From 2011 to 2019 the school levy has ranged from -3.94 percent in 2011 to 54.58 percent in 2016. The voter-approved levy provided money so the district could bond for projects like replacing the school bus garage, purchasing new busses, or building the new science and culinary arts spaces.
During her presentation, Backlund said the June 30, 2018 school district state-audited general fund balance was $1,710,799, which was has increased from past years to meet school board goals.
The general fund balance is used in case of emergencies. It cost the district about $30,000 per day to operate K-12 and typically districts are advised to have from 20 to 45 days of cash on hand.
As it stood at the end of June 2018, the school district had enough cash on hand to operate for 57 days.
Summary of levy changes
Backlund said the voter debt service levy was being reduced by $3,901 based on payments made this year. A refunding bond that had been issued in 2017 will save taxpayers $95,000 over seven years. Backlund said this was like refinancing your house to save money.
Other debt service payments on capital facilities, alternative facilities, and abatement bonds increased the levy category by $7,461. “The fund balance is better than expected due to increased revenues being realized after the initial budget was approved,” Backlund said.
She cited four areas of improvement, which included an increase in the general education revenues of $272,873; increased revenue from Title federal sources of $39,871; additional donations from student fees and miscellaneous income of $72,057; and other revenue for state and federal sources.
Expenditures also increased from the adopted 2018 budget, added Backlund. “These were mostly related to spending of grant funds received over budgeted amounts and payments to other agencies for additional student support.
“Grant funds are a guess. Sometimes they come through, sometimes they don’t,” she added.
In November 2016, Cook County voters approved $800 per student per year for six years, but Backlund said if finances improve, the district isn’t required to levy that much each year.
Student enrollment is up this year, noted Backlund, which helps the bottom line.
Backlund added that the levy is spread out to seasonal recreational property owners as well as residential owners.
Only about 21 percent of the district’s revenue comes from the levy. Other local sources account for 40 percent of the school revenue, while state funds are 55 percent and federal funds account for 5 percent.
Other school board news
Superintendent Dr. William Crandall presented outgoing school board member Chris Goettl with a plaque commemorating his four years serving on the board and he thanked him for his service.
“I would like to thank the community for giving me the opportunity to serve,” said Chris.
Fellow school board member Deb White said that with Chris leaving the board “I don’t know how I will get into my computer.” School board chair Sissy Lunde and board member Dan Shirley thanked Goettl for his diligent work on the school board. Rena Rogers will fill Goettl’s chair in January.
The school board discussed having a student representative on the board.
Many school boards have a student representative serving with the board, and I.S.D. 166 is moving in that direction, but more discussion will take place at upcoming board meetings to see what would work best for the student rep and the board.
The school board passed a resolution certifying the canvassing returns of the general election.
Former Viking head fast pitch softball coach Jessie Anderson will be back next spring to once again coach the girls’ fast pitch softball team.
Volunteer assistant Nordic ski coaches Mike Kobolinski and Kurt Farchmin will help coach the cross country ski team.
Dr. Crandall said the school’s newest school counselor, Brad Shannon, began work on December 10. Crandall added that he was participating in discussions about when the roof project for the Arrowhead Center for the Arts (ACA) would begin. He said Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills gave a great talk to the students.