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Homewood schools set tax levy at $14.4 million

Homewood School District 153 approved its 2017 tax levy of $14.4 million at the Dec. 11 board of education meeting.
The district expects to collect an additional $400,000 over last year’s receipts.  It is holding the increase within the required tax cap limitations. The amount stays within the 2.1 percent Consumer Price Index limit and allows for some new property that will be on the tax rolls, said John Gibson, the chief school finance officer.

One change that will help the district is an ability to raise additional funds in the education fund. Schools break down their budgets by funds. The education fund primarily is used for salaries. Districts also allocate funds for transportation expenses, buildings and grounds, bonds, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), special education.

District 153, like other schools, could only raise a certain amount in its education fund. To make up for its deficit, the district would raise more money than needed in other funds and then transfer the money into the education fund. Doing so did not cost the taxpayers any additional dollars.

In the last legislative session, the Illinois legislature removed the education fund tax limit. This change will make it easier from a bookkeeping standpoint. Board President Shelly Marks said the change doesn’t give the district carte blanche, but it will mean the district’s budgeting numbers will be more true to how it spends money.  The district’s taxing powers are still restricted by the state, she added.
The district also is waiting to learn what new money will be coming from the state. The  state budget approved by legislators in summer promised additional money for schools. The General Student Aid (GSA) level hasn’t gone up in six years. 

Administrators are working from the same funding formula of last school year because they don’t yet have word from Springfield of how much new money District 153 will get under the revised GSA formula.

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