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OPRFHS Board OKs Preliminary Levy Increase

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 board approves preliminary two percent levy increase for 2013.

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 board members Tuesday voted 5-1 to approve a preliminary tax levy increase of two percent from last year. 

D200 staff recommended the increase to account for new construction in the district, based on an estimated decrease of six percent in equalized assessed value (EAV) and a Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.7 percent. 

The total estimated levy, which includes a $2.5 million levy to cover Bond and Interest payments is 5.91 percent higher than the 2012 levy because the board in February approved a full abatement of its Bond and Interest levy from 2012.

District 200 board members Tom Cofsky and Jeff Weissglass, who serve on the district's finance committee, voted in favor of the preliminary estimate, but with concerns that an increase would add to the district's already robust fund balance of $118 million. Sharon Patchak-Layman voted against the levy estimate. 

A Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) formed over the summer to make a recommendation to the board regarding the district's $118 million fund balance. 

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With the full levy, Cofsky said the district will continue to see an increase in its fund balance. "I have concern about (an) increased levy, especially with new data that show the fund balance continuing to grow beyond what was anticipated," he said. 

D200 board member Ralph Lee argued the district does not have a revenue problem, but an expenditure problem. Slowing down the district's revenue growth, he said, does nothing to address a growth in expenditures. 

District 200 board president John Phelan said he thinks the board has responded to an expenditure problem for the better part of a decade. He supported the levy recommendation, stressing that the board's vote was preliminary. He added the FAC's work has confirmed the district has had a "revenue problem," in that it receives too much. 

He said hopefully, the FAC will make a recommendation for how the board can get on a different path for the future. 

The estimated 2013 levy of $66,335,821, breaks down to the following amounts per fund:
  • Education: $50,205,930
  • Operations and maintenance: $7,942,101
  • Transportation: $909,884
  • Working cash: $942,818
  • Municipal retirement: $1,234,259
  • Social security (FICA): $1,275,061
  • Fire prevention and safety: $1,885,635
  • Tort immunity: $1,246,500
The estimated bond and interest levy amount is $2,529,105

The board will hold a public hearing Dec. 19 before final adoption of the levy.

Read the full levy estimate report for Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 here.

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