District 233 prepares $56.3 million budget for H-F High

District 233 school board members are reviewing a proposed $56.35 million budget. The board will act on the budget at its Sept. 17 meeting.
 
The budget, for fiscal year July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, shows a 5.48 percent drop from the $59.44 million budget of 2019. 
 
Property tax revenues are expected to be down approximately $3 million. District 233 taxpayers will give $36.62 million in support. Lawrence Cook, the district’s business manager, said the dip is due, in part, to tax appeals from major businesses. He said the owners can file appeals going back four years. 
 
The South Suburbs went through a property reassessment in 2017. Cook said that could have triggered the number of property tax appeals. The district hired a tax attorney to represent its interests on large tax appeals.
 
Cook said under the state’s tax cap, schools can only receive property tax increases at a maximum rate of 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. This year District 233 expected to get $815,000 in new revenues based on the CPI rate of 2.1 percent, but the tax appeals are wiping out that increase, and additional property tax revenue. 
 
The district expects to get its second $2 million grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to help reduce the property tax burden. In exchange, the district must provide property tax relief, Cook said.  In 2019, ISBE allocated $50 million for districts with high property taxes. H-F was one of 28 districts sharing the grant. The Cook County Clerk’s office is determining how much of a tax reduction each property owner will receive.
 
The state instituted a new evidence-based formula to try and give funding equity between districts that have great property wealth and those that do not. This year, state aid for H-F is $13.88 million, a $345,000 increase from the previous year, Cook said.
 
The largest expense in the H-F budget, $32.1 million, covers salaries. 
 
The district will pay out an estimated $10 million in construction costs for the two fine arts wings at the South Building. The remainder of the $13,987,495 contract will be accounted for in the 2021 budget. Cook said the board is able to cover the work by using reserves in the capital projects fund, the district is not borrowing or increasing taxes.
 
The district is completing a 10-year annual life safety review. Cook expects several needed building updates will be pinpointed in the review, and revenues will be allocated in future budgets.
 
The district continues to have a Triple-A rating from Standard & Poors, the highest bond rating possible. Cook said one S&P ranking factor is the district maintaining its policy of a reserve fund that could cover 10 months of expenses.
 
The budget is available for review in the district’s business office located in the North Building. 


 

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