District 207 giving back tax dollars
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:20AM
Taxpayers in Maine Township High School Dist. 207 will see lower property tax bills as a result of a move by the cash-flush board of education last week.
At District 207’s regular board on Monday, March 4, the board decided to give back $1 million in property taxes.
“I think this is the greatest testament to the cooperation between the board and the administration,” said Board Member Eric Leys, who is the chairman of the Finance Committee.
The abatement was due to the district having a $3 million surplus in the budget, explained Dist. 207 Business Director Mary Kalou. She said this is the first time the district has done this.
Kalou said that they earmarked $2 million of that surplus for future capital projects and the other $1 million will go back to the taxpayers, who should see the decrease in their tax bills in August.
On a $11,000 tax bill, this would amount to about $30 in savings for taxpayers, noted Kalou.
“What potential impact will it have on our ability to complete projects in years that we have significant budgets? ” asked Board Member Margaret McGrath.
Kalou explained that the district does have a number of projects in its 10-year building plan, but they wanted to both put money aside for the upcoming capital projects and also give back to the taxpayers.
“The goal was to do a win-win,” said Kalou.
Dist 207 Supt. Ken Wallace noted that, on the plus side, the district spends a “much higher amount on education” than some of the surrounding school districts. He said they spend a smaller amount of money on capital projects and they will be evaluating that in the future.
Board Member Donna Pellar abstained from voting on the tax abatement. All other board members voted in favor of the abatement.
“I’m just nervous about the future,” said Pellar, who said she was in favor of the idea of giving money back to the community.
Kalou said that currently there’s a large amount of uncertainty in terms of state and federal funding.
“With this action, we have set a new precedent that Maine 207 only keeps the tax dollars needed to support education programs and prioritizes returning money to taxpayers over building reserves,” Leys said in a statement after the meeting.
Leys explained that the finance committee will regularly consider the possibility of a property tax abatement every year moving forward.
Three years ago, Dist. 207 made significant reductions in their expenditures in order to have a healthy budget. In his statement, Leys credited administration and board members for making the necessary changes to be able to have a surplus and give back to the taxpayers. Leys and other members of the finance committee were also applauded for their efforts to make the abatement possible.