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Two board members vote against H-F tax levy

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 school board approved its 2018 tax levy, but not without objections from two board members.

The levy includes $33,088,000 for the education fund; $3,763,329 for operations and maintenance; $625,000 for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; $1,200,000 for social security; $1,135,000 for transportation; $5,000 for working cash; and $300,000 for liability insurance.

Board members Annette Bannon and Beth Larocca voted against the general tax levy and a working cash tax levy saying they wanted to lessen the burden on the taxpayer. Larocca said she wants to “find some ways to save some money.”

The levy is a request by the district for taxes to be collected on property. More than half of the district’s revenues come from property taxes. Without an approved levy, the district would be unable to collect those taxes.

The levy, as well as the district’s overall equalized assessed valuation (EAV), are used to set property tax rates in the coming year.  

A number of factors go in to setting the levy and several are variables at this point, according to Mark Sheehan, interim business manager. 

“The levy worksheets indicate a total capped fund levy of $40,116,329 which is 4.99 percent above the 2017 extension. While we ask for 4.99 percent, we will only receive approximately 2.1 percent more than last year,” he reported to the board.

After the board approved the levy at the Dec. 18 meeting, District 233 submitted its request to the Cook County Clerk’s Office. It is that office that officially sets the levy. 

To stay within a state property tax freeze limit, taxing bodies can collect an increase that is no more than 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. Sheehan said District 233 will be held to the 2.1 percent CPI increase. He estimates the district will get an additional $600,000 to $800,000.

In addition to current property, the school district is allowed to value new property under the tax cap legislation. Sheehan said the district last year had $1.2 million, but the previous year it reported $15 million, including the new Meijer store in Flossmoor.

In addition, the equalized assessment valuation for the district is expected to increase just 1 percent. In the previous year, EAV jumped by 12 percent, but Sheehan said that was partially due to the South Suburbs being reassessed by the Cook County Assessor’s Office. 

The district has a budget of about $70 million, and of that about $40 million is collected from property taxes, Sheehan said.

Sheehan recommends, as do most school business managers, that the levy be set at the maximum not knowing what number the county clerk will set.  

“If you cut your levy year-to-year-to-year, you affect it in perpetuity,” he explained. “We’re only going to get 2.1 percent (more).”

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