Riley School District #18 Approves Tax Levy, Discusses State Funding

The Riley Community Consolidated School District #18 Board of Education discussed the 2010 tax levy, transportation, state funding, and school consolidation at the school board meeting on April 20 in the school library.

Tax Levy

The board adjusted the limiting rates for tax year 2010 levy, which provides the funding for school year 2011-2012, at the meeting.

Under the property tax law, school districts are permitted to adjust the rates in the spring to make sure the dollars requested through the levy process are placed in the appropriate fund, said Jerry Trickett, Superintendent of District #18. Trickett said there are nine individual fund accounts--four of the most notable funds include education, transportation, building, and special education, within the accounting system.

“Dollars are requested from the local taxpayer via a levy process in December, annually,” he said. “The amount of taxes a district receives is estimated until the county clerk’s office confirms the actual extension of dollars a school district will receive in the spring. Generally, the district extension is for less money than originally requested for each of the funds. A board will be given the opportunity a take the limited rates and adjust the rate-- not raising the rate or dollars, but moving the dollars from fund to fund more or less, to distribute the money among the nine funds to better meet the district’s financial obligations.”

The district requested $3,528,000 for the 2011 to 2012 school year in the December levy, Trickett said.

“In April, the district was notified their extension,” he said. “The money collected from taxpayers and sent on to the school district, was $3,469, 833. The district was extended $3,360,561 for the 2010 to 2011 school year.”

The tax cap limits the increase in total extensions to the lesser of 5 percent or the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Trickett said.

“In 2009, the CPI was .1 percent; and for 2010, it was 2.7 [percent],” he said.

“Higher increases must be approved by referendum; and in a tax capped district, the total tax rate for the operating funds adjusts.”

Transporation, State Funding, and Consolidation

The school board also discussed transportation and state reimbursements and the impact on the district.

In the 2009 to 2010 school year, the district had $356,450 in transportation expenses, Trickett said.

“Generally, the State of Illinois will reimburse a school district somewhere between 85 percent to 100 percent of reimbursable expenses,” he said. “For 2010 to 2011, the governor would like to reduce this to 50 percent or 50 cents for every dollar reimbursable to the district. Riley CCSD #18 received 135,000 reimbursements in Fiscal Year 2010 from the state. However, for Fiscal Year 2012, the district would only see half of the 135,000 reimbursed under Governor Quinn’s proposal. This will cause the district to use more of its local revenue to pay for transporting students to school rather than for their education.”

Kurt Schnable, a board member for District #18, said this is, “an insult to the taxpayer.”

“When the state provides so little funding to District #18 right now; and they arbitrarily decide to reduce transportation funding in the neighborhood of 35 percent to 50 percent, [with the price of diesel bus fuel], it tells me they are trying to balance their own state budget deficit, (at bankruptcy spending levels), on the backs of our, (and all other predominately-locally funded school districts’), local residents.”

Schnable said the state has hiked personal and corporate tax rates recently to, “the detriment of all who work in Illinois or employ people in Illinois.”

“The state is also raking in record gasoline tax revenue due to the current high price,” he said. “The fact that they receive a ‘percentage’ tax, not just [a] fixed amount per gallon or in cents. The higher gas prices go, the more they receive. Now, they are cutting our school transportation funding at the same time. This is a clear indication to me as to why Governor Quinn’s recent plans to actively pursue school consolidation into massive school district’s cannot and will not ever work to the benefit of the local school district residents of the State of Illinois, wherever they live. I believe it is a simple political power grab to create more opportunities for corruption and control of people’s lives.”

Schnable said that in his opinion, “bigger government is not better government.”

“Bigger government is less accountable government than local government,” he said. “We have to ‘comply’ with their rules and regulations, no matter what. Whether the laws they put on the books are good or bad does not matter. They, however, can ‘bend the rules’ for themselves whenever they want to, with no accountability.” Schnable said the state has a balanced budget amendment in its constitution which has, “obviously been routinely ignored for many years.”

“Why is there no accountability?,” he said. “I would suggest that the state get its own house in order before they try to take on the task of running our schools at the local level. Something is very wrong with this entire scenario; and it appears as though it will not get better anytime soon.