Dist. 68 Keeps Eye on Financial Future

By Zawislak, Mick | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 16, 2005 | Go to article overview

Dist. 68 Keeps Eye on Financial Future


Zawislak, Mick, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Mick Zawislak Daily Herald Staff Writer

Oak Grove District 68 is not quite in a crisis, but the pinch is coming and district officials want to avoid the inevitable.

Facing a $2 million deficit within two years, as well as increasing costs for items such as health insurance and needed repairs in aging buildings over the next five years, the district will be asking voters for a property tax increase.

Oak Grove has no funds in reserve and borrowed money in June 2003 by issuing tax anticipation warrants to cover expenses. The district also has been trimming its budget, cutting $90,000 from the technology budget, for example.

So they are hitting on voters for the first time in five years. As insurance, they'll get two shots at it. Oak Grove's request to increase the educational fund rate to raise about $1.5 million is one of only two referendums on the Feb. 22 primary ballot in Lake County.

The Green Oaks-based district was allowed to do that because its coverage area extends into a portion of Waukegan, which is holding a primary election for mayor.

And because the filing period to be on the April general election ballot ended before the results of the primary will be known, the district was allowed to put the referendum question on the April ballot as well. Should it be successful in February, the April question would be moot, however, and the results discounted.

"If it passes the first time, the second one means nothing," said Superintendent Larry Hewitt.

Technically, the district will be asking for a 32-cent increase per $100 assessed valuation in the education fund tax rate. While not in the ballot language, the district plans to pay off 1997 building bonds, which carry a separate tax rate of 27 cents.

That would equate to a net tax increase of 5 cents, the district has been saying in a series of public question and answer sessions and meetings with homeowner groups. The annual increase would range from $50 for a $300,000 to $83 for a $500,000 home and $134 for an $800,000 home.

The money will be used to maintain and improve a comprehensive educational program including after-school clubs and activities, drama, foreign languages and gifted education.

New curricula in math, science, reading, writing and social studies, an increase in the technology budget for training and equipment and more teacher training, are among the "value-added" improvements voters would see after a successful referendum, according to the district. …

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