Homewood School District 153’s tax collection rate is near perfect, according to the district’s auditors.
Taxpayers paid their property taxes at a rate of 98 percent in 2015 and 2016, according to Tim Fagan of Legacy Professionals, who presented the district’s latest audit report at its Jan. 7 meeting.
Fagan said this high payment rate supports a healthy budget for the district. Other districts collect taxes at rates as low as 60 percent, he said.
“These are some of the highest (payment rates) we’ve seen. It’s really something to be proud of,” Fagan told board members.
Fagan said 2017 taxes, paid in spring 2018, were collected at the 50 percent rate. Because the audit ended June 30, 2018, he didn’t have numbers for the fall tax payment collection, but expected the total yearly collection rate would be as high as the previous two years.
Property taxes help schools keep balanced budgets, especially in the face of declining state revenue. District 153 voters have twice approved property tax increases in recent years to help support the schools.
The district collected approximately $17.8 million through the tax levy. The report shows the district’s balance sheet for 2017 at $30.17 million and $30.16 million for 2018.
Total liabilities were down from $18 million to $15 million because of principal payments made on the district debt. The district paid $2.6 million in debt service.
The district sold $4.5 million in general obligation bonds in 2017. That boosted the district’s debt in 2017, according to Fagan. The remaining $4.5 million in bonds were sold in December 2018. Taxpayers approved the sale of bonds through a 2016 referendum. The additional revenue is helping the district’s finances remain in the black.
The audit shows the district collected $700,000 more in property tax revenue in 2018 and saw an increase of $800,000 in state aid because of a change in the funding formula.
Fagan said the district also received a clean audit for its federal grants.