Park district adjusts numbers to meet EAV drop

Homewood-Flossmoor Park District commissioners are adjusting levy numbers after learning the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of property in the district dropped by about 3 percent.
 
Commissioners reviewed a proposed 2019 levy that reflects the decrease. They will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 and vote on a final levy at that board meeting. The park district will submit it to the Cook County Assessor’s Office. The park district's levy is an estimate of revenues needed for the next fiscal year. A final levy will be announced in summer 2020.
 
The EAV had been on the upswing, although it has never regained the high property values before the 2009 recession, according to Sharon Dangles, superintendent of finance and administration. The last good year for the park district was the 2010 EAV of $812.74 million.
 
Dangles said the 2018 EAV took a hit of $18.9 million decreasing from $623 million to $604.13 million. 
 
In Cook County, government agencies use the previous year’s EAV (2018) to prepare the current year levy (2019) with taxes collected the following year (2020).

Dangles told commissioners because of the drop, she set a tax rate of 0.893 percent for a 1.8 percent property tax increase to raise $90,724 in new revenue. She said the additional revenues will help the district meet salary increases due to the state’s raising the minimum wage, inflationary costs and capital expenses.
 
The tax levy shows a 5 percent increase – 1.9 percent Consumer Price Index maximum and an expected 3.1 percent increase in new construction within the park district’s boundaries.
 
“In total dollars, the levy will be pretty flat,” Debbie Kopas, park district executive director said, “the taxes we’re extending are pretty much the same.”
 
In other business, the commissioners accepted the annual audit and learned the district’s finances are in excellent shape. Tim Gavin of Lauterbach & Amen said the auditing firm was extending a “clean” opinion, the highest assessment, for the May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2019, financial period.
 
The park district showed revenues of $11.95 million and expenses of $12.33 million. The district balanced its books using funds on-hand.
 
For the 34th year, the park district received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
 
The district also sold $980,111 in general obligation bonds to Oppenheimer & Co. of Newport, Rhode Island, at an interest rate of 1.98 percent. Aaron Gold, assistant vice president of Speer Financial Inc., which handled the sale, said that low interest rate was below market and urged the commissioners to approve the sale. 
 
The bonds will be used for principal and interest payments on past bonds, and $581,000 will be used for capital expenses. The commissioners will appropriate these funds in 2020. 
 

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