Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 11, 2013

MVTHS reviews tax levy

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The Mt. Vernon Township High School Finance Committee Monday reviewed the district’s tax levy for 2013, which seeks a 7.91 percent increase over the prior year.

In November, the tentative levy showing this increase was approved by the MVTHS Board of Education.

The levy is now set to be formally adopted at the Dec. 16 board meeting, following a required Truth in Taxation hearing.

At Monday’s committee meeting, Superintendent Michael Smith presented more detailed information on the levy to show board members exactly what will be adopted at the Dec. 16 meeting.

“We’re presenting a 7.91 percent increase,” Smith said. “Based on past trend data over the last three years, we will probably realize about a 3.1 (percent) increase.”

Tax caps restrict how much of a levy increase districts can have.

Levy hikes for existing property values are limited to December’s Consumer Price Index amount or 5 percent, whichever is lower. The CPI figure as of September was at 1.2 percent.

MVTHS officials hope their total levy increase will reach 3.1 percent when the district factors

in new property growth.

Smith said the district sought an 8.28 percent increase last fiscal year, but only ended up receiving a 3.79 percent increase.

Carl Miller, president of the MVTHS Board, said it was beneficial for Smith to review the levy information with the Finance Committee.

“I’ve been at it for years and it’s still good to have a review,” Miller said.

The Truth in Taxation hearing will be held at the beginning of next week’s regular MVTHS Board meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 16. The hearing is a requirement for any proposed levy increase of more than 5 percent.

At the hearing, local taxpayers will have the chance to address the school board about the levy.

Miller said last year’s hearing drew about five or six people who made comments. He said he does not recall any members of the public speaking at the 2011 hearing.

“It varies from year to year,” Miller said.

Also on Monday, the Finance Committee discussed concerns related to the Affordable Care Act and how it may impact employee health care costs for the district.

Currently, MVTHS is in the process of moving back into a group health care plan for employees.

Last year, the district had switched to individual coverage because it was more cost-effective at the time. Now, however, with changes in the tax code it makes more sense to return to the group plan, Smith said.

Early indications are the new health care law will not negatively impact the district, Smith said. Even so, there are a lot of uncertainties that could affect costs in the future, he said.

District officials will continue to closely monitor the situation, Smith said.

“We work with the nationally based consulting firm, NFP, and we’ve tried to make some good estimates there, too, based on state and national trends so we hope we’re okay,” Smith said.