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Summit Hill Board Votes Down Tax Levy Estimate

The board did not approve the proposed $1.55 million tax increase.

The Summit Hill District 161 School Board chose not to approve the district’s proposed 2012 tax levy estimate resolution in a 4-2 vote at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The estimate would have requested a $1.55 million increase compared to last year’s finalized levy.

“People are being taxed right out of their house,” said board vice president Joy Murphy. “We can’t keep doing this.”

The proposed 2012 levy totaled approximately $32.2 million. Last year, the district requested approximately $30.7 million in levy funds.

District director of business and transportation Susan Krautstrunk outlined the specifics behind the increase in a presentation before the board on Wednesday.

If the proposed levy estimate had been approved, the tax rate for Summit Hill residents would have been estimated to increase from 3.3782 to 3.6735. This translates to a $69 tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 house. Krautstrunk said that neighboring districts' tax rates are comparable to those in Summit Hill.

Krautstrunk explained that during the last three years, federal funding for the district has been reduced from four percent to two percent and state funding has dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent. Consequently, local funds, including the tax levy, have grown as a source of district revenue, increasing from 80 percent to 87 percent.

She also stated that the 2013-14 school year contains many revenue unknowns, such as possible pension reform, new teacher contracts and increased contractual costs.

“We’re becoming more and more dependent upon our local dollars to fund the district,” said Krautstrunk.

Board member Sean William Doyle and president Mary Kenny voted in favor of the levy estimate. Board members Stacey Borgens and George Perros, secretary Denise Lenz and vice president Murphy voted against the resolution.

Board member Denise Wildeveld was not in attendance.

Perros suggested reducing the proposed levy by $300,000, while Borgens, Lenz and Murphy spoke in favor of keeping the levy the same amount it was in 2011.

Doyle expressed concerns regarding the possibility that the district might not request enough levy funding.

Superintendent Barb Rains said that opting not to increase the levy would result in program and staff cuts.

“When the quality of the district goes down, then the homeowner’s value goes down,” said Doyle.

The board will hold a second vote to determine the levy estimate at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19.

A district levy hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12. Following the hearing, the board will vote to approve the levy.

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