District 153 to raise cash via $4.5 million in GO bonds

The Homewood District 153 school board voted Monday to arrange for the sale of $4.5 million in General Obligation bonds in January.

The sale will raise money for the district’s Working Cash Fund. 

Voters agreed in a 2016 referendum to give the school board permission to raise property taxes to cover the sale of $9 million in bonds to help keep school finances solvent.

The first half of the bonds were sold in 2017 by Mesirow Financial Inc. The firm will also handle this sale.

Schools are primarily supported by property taxes and state financial aid. The 2008 recession saw property values drop, reducing the amount of money collected through property taxes.

Then, the district got reduced state aid for several years. It was a double whammy for the district’s finances, and the school board turned to voters for help in balancing its books. The referendum passed with 80 percent approval.

While the district’s finances are better now than they were in 2016 when the referendum passed, the district still struggles to meet its obligations. The board expects it will be able to stretch the $4.5 million infusion of cash out for another five school budgets or more.

District 153 is getting new money in state aid due to several changes in the school funding formula. That is helping to keep the district’s books in the black, but there are no guarantees the state will be able to keep its promises for additional revenue each school year.

In other business, the board approved its 2018 tax levy of $18.2 million, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year. This is in keeping with the state-imposed property tax freeze that allows for tax increases of 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. This year CPI is 2.1 percent.
The levy includes $3.5 million for the bond and interest fund and $14.7 in capped funds.

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