District 304 financial plan stirs levy discussion

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 6:14 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – As Geneva District 304 officials consider the district’s finances, financial planner Stephen Miller of PMA Financial Network presented a five-year financial plan at a recent school board meeting.

Miller’s presentation included a projection that the consumer price index for 2014 would rise to 2 percent and then to 2.5 percent for future years.

The consumer price index for the 2013 levy is 1.7 percent, but at an earlier meeting, the board majority voted for a recommended levy increase of 1 percent. Board member Mike McCormick voted against it, saying he favored a 0 percent increase on the levy.

Miller said other school districts PMA works with are talking about levying less than the consumer price index.

Board member Leslie Juby said if they levy enough money, officials can give it back to taxpayers through abatements on debt. 

“If we don’t levy, we have less to abate back and we probably have less money in the future, [which will] push us to make more difficult decisions,” Juby said.

“By reducing the operating levy, it reduces your future ability to reach your operating levels, because it always builds on the prior year,” Miller said.

“If we levy less, we never get it back – it’s gone,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Donna Oberg said. “If you lose $2 million the first year, in five years you lose $10 million ... you lose your whole levying power to run the district.”

McCormick said he was talking about a levy reduction in the short term.

Miller also projected the equalized assessed value of the district’s taxable property would go down 3.47 percent for 2013, down again 2 percent for 2014 and be at 0 percent for 2015.

The district’s EAV is projected to increase again by 2016 to 2 percent, and then 3 percent in 2017 and 2018, Miller said.

New growth is projected to be at $12 million for 2014 and 2015, which is significant because it is not restricted by the tax cap. Miller projected new growth will continue to $15 million in each year for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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