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Big EAV increase boosts Bureau Valley finances

Wind turbines, higher farmland values will mean lower overall tax rate

MANLIUS — ’Tis the season of giving and receiving, and that especially holds true for the Bureau Valley School District, after school board action last week.

School board members learned the district would receive a hefty 25.2 percent increase in the district’s equalized assessed valuation (EAV), which is rising from about $151 million to $189 million.

The increase in the combined value of real estate within the district is because wind turbines constructed within the district in 2018 are taxable for the first time, and also the value of farmland has increased.

Therefore, the district can give its taxpayers a lower tax rate, according to Superintendent Jason Stabler.

During a truth-in-taxation hearing held before the school board approved its tax levy, Stabler said revisions in the EAV from the county assessor’s office pushed the district’s tax levy to nearly $10.5 million, or more than 18 percent higher than last year.

But because of the higher EAV, the estimated tax rate will be lower and still generate more money to operate the school district.

After the truth-in-taxation hearing adjourned, the school board began its regular meeting on Dec. 16, during which time the tax levy was approved.

In other business:

• Justin Yepsen, board president, recognized Lynn Olds for achieving Master School Board Member status from the Illinois Association of School Boards.

• Duane Price, high school principal, informed the board that the Drama Club was recognized in a publication by Shaw Media.

• Kristie Cady, principal at Walnut and Wyanet, reminded everyone of the final two holiday programs.

• Junior High Principal Julie Decker-­Platz announced that the BV Junior High robotics team, Storm Structure, has qualified for the state competition.

• Sheri Litherland, curriculum director, thanked Dennis Thompson for his continued donations for STEM activities.

• The board let transportation fuel bids, approved an FFA overnight trip, and approved an Ag Booster lease agreement.

• Updates to the integrated pest management plan were approved.

• The board approved the resignation of Tony Gripp as BV Junior High teacher at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

• The resignation of Gerald Eshelman as high school custodian was approved.

• The board declared its intention to issue $1.85 million in working cash fund bonds for the purpose of increasing the working cash fund for the district, and directed that notice of such intention be published in the manner provided by law.

In discussion regarding the working cash fund bond issue, Stabler said there is a possibility of tax cap legislation in Springfield. If this legislation is passed, it will limit the district’s Debt Service Extension Base (DSEB). The DSEB is the annual levy extended for non-referendum issues (working cash, funding and life safety bonds) in the year the district becomes capped.

Stabler said Bureau Valley’s current DSEB is zero dollars. This is the number the district would be able to borrow on future non-referendum issues going forward. With the estimated decreased tax rate and increased EAV, the district will be able to put some of
these savings into working cash bonds and still provide taxpayers with a decreased tax rate.

Stabler said it would be prudent for the district to establish a sufficient DSEB base to be adequately prepared and give it the ability to use the funds for capital projects and maintenance of facilities that the district currently does not have even with the additional monies generated from the wind turbines.

Yepsen, the school board president, agreed that this money could be used for building projects that have been delayed. He said he feels the district needs to keep its buildings updated and looking nice.

• Stabler informed the board that he has applied for the Property Tax Relief Grant. The state will replace a portion of the tax revenue with state funds to lessen the property tax burden on local taxpayers.

The next regular meeting of school board will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21.

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