Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 20, 2013

MVTHS approves tentative levy

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The Mt. Vernon Township High School Board of Education Tuesday approved a tentative 2013 tax levy seeking a 7.912 percent increase over the prior year.

In all likelihood, however, the district would only receive about a 3 percent increase or less given tax cap restrictions, said Superintendent Michael Smith.

“Irregardless of what's placed in the paper, we're only going to be able to access what the voters have approved as available for taxing bodies under the tax cap,” Smith said.

Prior to voting on the tentative levy, the board heard comments from audience member Roger Jacobs.

Among other topics, Jacobs expressed concern about the proposed levy hike. He said levy increases being put forth by MVTHS, District 80 and other taxing bodies could drive people out of Mt. Vernon.

“That's going to make a bigger tax burden for everybody else that stays here,” Jacobs said. “I know they don't want people to move out, but that's what's a possibility if it gets too expensive to live here.”

MVTHS officials say it's common for districts to ask for more revenue than they will receive with the levy to ensure they don't miss out on revenue from new property growth.

Smith explained Tuesday how he calculated the district's proposed levy for 2013, using as a guide past property value figures, Consumer Price Index projections and other data.

District levy increases for existing property values are limited to December's CPI amount or 5 percent, whichever is lower. The CPI figure as of September was at 1.2 percent.

Still, MVTHS officials hope their total levy increase will reach about 3 percent when the district factors in new property growth.

Also on Tuesday, the MVTHS Board approved holding a Truth in Taxation hearing on the levy just prior to the Dec. 16 board meeting. This hearing is a requirement for any proposed levy increase of more than 5 percent.

After the hearing, the board will formally adopt the levy Dec. 16.

Other board actions Tuesday included:

n Discussion of the ongoing bidding process for the new high school. Audience member Richard Acklin said he worried there was insufficient time being provided for potential bidders and that the process was being rushed.

n Approval of the employment of assistant girls softball coach Brian Chelf.

n Approval of the resignations of special education aide Abby Morgan and freshman volleyball coach Cortney Denton.

n Discussion of the district's School Report Card data. Smith said he is checking with the state about whether some of the high school's test scores might actually be higher than what is reflected in the Report Card.