Three members voted against increasing the 2011 tax levy at the Dec. 14 board meeting, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the measure from passing.
After a public hearing, board members Michael Carbone, Kip Evans and Shannon Smigielski voted against approving the $31.9 million levy, which is an increase of $1.4 million or 4.64 percent over 2010.
Board members Sue Facklam, Ray Millington, Keith Surroz and Karen Weinert voted in favor of the increase.
Before the public hearing, resident Lisa Jarratt, wife of 31st Senate District candidate and Lake County Tea Party Chairman Lenny Jarratt, made a silent protest against the tax levy increase, and made a dig at Facklam.
Jarratt passed out copies of April 2011 election campaign materials from Facklam and former board President Mary Garcia in which they stated they were proud to have balanced the budget every year without asking for a tax increase.
Just Say No
This is the third year Carbone has voted against a tax levy increase. After the meeting, he told Patch he was concerned for the many residents who still are struggling financially and may have lost jobs or are facing home foreclosure.
“There’s got to be a stopping point,” he said of raising the levy.
“I don’t feel we did our homework in what we could reduce,” said Evans after the meeting. “Other school districts and municipalities have either cut back or cut out levy increases.”
Smigielski said she had no comment on why she voted against the levy increase.
District 46 Business Manager Anna Kasprzyk gave a short presentation about the levy during a public hearing prior to the regular board meeting.
She said the district reduced levies in funds including the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Social Security, special education and operations and maintenance.
The largest chunk of the 2011 levy, 4.23 percent, she said, is for accommodating bond payments.
“We sympathize with the taxpayers,” read a power point slide. “We are aware more are struggling financially and may have lost jobs. However, we are faced with higher costs and reduced revenue.”
The district has cut more than $6 million in expenditures over the last three years and vows more for the future. Major estimated that expenditure reductions for the 2011-12 school year stand at about $455,000, according to a board meeting handout.
State and federal revenue reductions for 2011-12 are estimated at $1.25 million.
Kasprzyk said the reason for the levy increase is that expenditures are rising across the board and state and federal revenues are decreasing or being eliminated. For example, the district’s general state aid is expected to decrease 5 percent in fiscal 2012.
It is also possible the state will stop funding bus transportation to public schools. For District 46, this would be a $2.5 million loss.
Superintendent Ellen Correll said school districts are waiting for the General Assembly to return to session early next year to make a decision, “but it’s not good.”
Correll said she’s prepared to join her fellow school superintendents in lobbying against the measure.
Another reason for the levy increase, said Kasprzyk, is two upcoming union negotiations for the 2012-13 school year, which could result in increased expenditures. She said the district also has little control over the cost of insurance, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and fuel.
The estimated property tax revenue that would come from new construction within the district is estimated at $150,000, Kasprzyk said. Also, an expiring tax increment financing district is anticipated to generate about $3.5 million for the district.
At a previous board meeting, Kasprzyk suggested the district ask the county for the entire levy, but review in March whether to accept the total funds allotted or abate them, which would save taxpayers some money. Giving the taxpayers a break with an abatement was an idea Carbone had suggested previously.
CORRECTION: The amount of property tax revenue that could come from new construction within the district is actually about $150,000, instead of a higher number previous reported. Patch regrets the error.