District 201 school board approves $26.5 million property tax levy

News-DemocratDecember 16, 2013 

Belleville School District 201 school board unanimously approved its annual tax levy during its meeting Monday night.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer estimated the district will levy for about $26.5 million. "We are not anticipating any increase to the tax rate as a part of this levy," he said.

Superintendent Jeff Dosier said the district "worked really hard" to maintain its tax rate.

Mentzer updated board members on the district's finances including $1.8 million owed to the district by the State of Illinois.

"We continue to grow concerned with the state's inability to allocate money for mandated categorical payments," he said.

If the state continues to fall behind, Mentzer estimated Illinois will owe the district more than $3.5 million in January.

"It makes cash flow very difficult -- a majority of that money goes directly to the education fund, which funds most of the personnel in our district," he said. "We continue to be hopeful and cautiously optimistic about that situation. We continue to watch expenses and revenue."

District officials are examining a variety of cost-cutting measures, according to Mentzer, including alternative transportation options for students and more cost effective ways to educate special education students.

"We are looking really critically at the way we spend our dollars," he said.

Mentzer briefed the board on the different components of the state pension reform.

"It's a pretty complex law," he said. "It's going to be challenging to get everybody to understand it."

The pension reform bill did not include any cost shifting from the state to local school districts, according to Mentzer, as previous proposed bills had.

"It does decrease the monthly contribution rate for employees from 9.4 percent to 8.4 percent," he said. "We will recognize six-tenths of that percent decrease in our monthly contributions on behalf of employees."

In other news Monday night, the school board approved an agriculture science course for the 2014-15 school year at both Belleville East and Belleville West high schools and the purchase of a low-mileage used vehicle not to exceed $16,000 for the driver's education program at Belleville West.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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