November 15, 2016 School Board Meeting Summary
The Dakota School Board held its regularly scheduled November meeting on the 15th. Below are highlights from that meeting.
2016 State Report Card
Mr. Prusator reviewed the 2016 state report card, which includes demographic, financial, student achievement and other information relating to the district and state of Illinois.
11/2/16 Community Focus Group Session
Mr. Prusator also reviewed survey results from the November 2, 2016 community focus group session. He also shared highlights from feedback that community members made during the small group sessions. Overall, the community members who took the survey responded favorably to information shared at the meeting and the opportunity to share feedback during the small group discussion. The feedback will be used by the board as they move forward in the areas of programming, facilities and a potential April 2017 referendum question.
Mr. Prusator shared the highlights from the Planning and Development Committee which was held on Wednesday, November 9th. The committee members were provided with and in depth summary of the proposed facility project by an OpTerra representative. Tim King, from King Financial Consulting, Inc., also provided background on funding options pertaining to the facility project.
Reviewed proposed facility project
Sharon Uslan from OpTerra presented information to the school board regarding the cost breakdown of the proposed facility project. The project will address four areas: 1) mechanical; 2) building envelop; 3) safety/security; and 4) energy conservation. The total projected cost of the project is $7,321,430. Sharon also noted that the project also projects a net savings of nearly $1.5 million in energy and equipment savings over 20 years. The objectives of the facility project are to improve the learning environment; improve safety/security of students, staff and property; extend the useful life of equipment; realize energy cost savings; and make Dakota School facilities attractive and competitive within the region.
Reviewed Potential April 2017 referendum resolution and ballot question
The board reviewed the potential April referendum resolution and the ballot question. Mr. Prusator shared that the total tax rate following a successful referendum would not increase due to the fact that the last payment for the 1999 building bond will have been paid. Additionally, in conjunction with an increased Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) for the 2016 tax year, the total tax rate will actually decrease.
Mr. Prusator emphasized that while the resolution and ballot question will indicate an increase in the limited rate, the actual total tax rate will decrease due to a reduction in the debt service rate (due to final payment of 1999 building bonds) and the higher EAV. Unfortunately, the reduction in the debt service rate (and total tax rate) language cannot be included on the referendum resolution or ballot question. Mr. Prusator said it will be important for voters to understand that the total tax rate will decrease following a successful referendum.
The proceeds from the referendum would be used to fund the facility project reviewed earlier in the meeting and to sustain and improve educational programming in the district. The board believes that improved facilities and programming is critical to the future of Dakota CUSD #201 and the surrounding communities.
It is anticipated that the Board will vote at the December meeting to place the referendum question of the April 2017 ballot.
Approved tentative 2016 tax levy and scheduled Truth in Taxation hearing for December 13 at 6:00 p.m.
Mr. Prusator reviewed information regarding the 2016 property tax levy process. Due to the projected increase in 2016 Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of 7.3%, the total tax rate for the district will likely decrease for property taxes to be paid in 2017. At the same time, the projected higher EAV provides an increase in local tax revenues, which necessitates the district requesting more money than was received last year. Consequently, the school board will conduct a Truth in Taxation hearing on December 13 to ensure that all of the additional money due to the increased EAV can be realized. Additionally, because EAV will not be finalized until the spring of 2017, the district must request more funds than expected in the event the EAV increases more than 7.3%. It should also be noted that any additional increase in EAV will lower the total tax rate.
There were no actions following closed session. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Tuesday, December 13th. The levy hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m.