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D97, D200 boards approve tax levies

D97 takes CPI increase while D200 avoids it

January 13th, 2021 10:39 AM

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

School districts 97 and 200, last month, approved tax levies for the 2020 levy year. While the D97 board's levy represents a slight increase, consistent with the change in the Consumer Price Index, which measures the rate of inflation, the D200 board chose to stick with a decision it made in November to avoid the CPI-related increase in order to keep its levy relatively flat compared with last year's levy. 

The D97 board voted unanimously on its levy at a meeting on Dec. 15. The district's total 2020 tax levy is $82,404,000, which is a 2.3 percent increase over the 2019 levy extension. The increase is tied to the CPI. 

In a memo on Dec. 11, Rob Grossi, the district's outside financial consultant, said the levy was "recommended with consideration of the district's long-term financial projections, the district's long-term facility needs, the district's long-term academic objectives, and consideration of the long-term fiscal uncertainty stemming from the fiscal crisis of the state of Illinois." 

Grossi added that the levy will "best ensure fiscal and academic stability as well as safe and functional facilities" and ensures that the district is in compliance with its fund balance policy of maintaining at least three to six months' worth of reserves. 

The D200 board voted unanimously to adopt its 2020 tax levy at a regular meeting on Dec. 17. The board decided to only tax new property, leaving out the 2.3 percent CPI increase, for a total levy of $73,409,472. That represents a 0.4 percent increase over the 2019 tax extension of $73,099,996. 

The third option means that the D200 administration must make budget cuts equivalent to the CPI amount of $1.7 million, district officials said. 

"This will result in eliminating building rental usage, overtime, reduction in student sports/clubs, and support services for students," said Cyndi Sidor, D200's chief financial officer, and Alyssa Alfano, the district's finance director, in a Dec. 3 memo. 

So far, the district has not identified how it will make up that nearly $2 million in revenue, but the mere discussion of possible cuts by administrators last month prompted a tense back-and-forth between board members and district staff, with many board members accusing administrators of playing politics with the numbers by forecasting cuts in sensitive areas, such as the pool and special education. 

Both school districts will start drafting budgets later this year. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

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