District 67 officials looking at new referendum
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:55AM
Golf Elementary School District 67 officials may go out for another tax hike referendum as early as February, but they have less than two weeks to decide.
The school board will have to decide by Nov. 26, the end of the filing period for the Feb. 26 election, whether to place a tax increase referendum on the ballot.
The decision also hinges on whether Morton Grove Trustee Dan DiMaria goes forward with a his plan to run against Mayor Dan Staackmann in the primary for the nomination of the Morton Grove Action Party for the office of mayor.
DiMaria announced Nov. 13 that he would challenge Staackmann.
The District 67 School Board’s finance committee has set a meeting for 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at Golf Middle School, 9401 Waukegan Road, to discuss the issue. If a referendum is not placed on the February primary ballot the district could put a measure on the April 9 ballot.
The next opportunity after that would not come until March of 2014, the board’s financial advisor told members of the finance committee Thursday night.
Elizabeth Hennessy of William Blair outlined the district’s options to the committee prior to the regular board meeting.
Hennessy told committee members that they could only run a referendum in February if there is some other village or park district measure on the ballot.
Hennessy, who also updated the committee on the district’s financial situation, said that with a larger consumer price index than in recent years as well as the district’s efforts to rein in spending, the board could decided to ask for a smaller increase in February or March than what has been rejected by voters twice.
In March of this year voters turned down both a tax hike measure that would have generated about $1.1 million in new revenue for the district as well as a bond issue referendum.
At the Nov. 9 election District 67 voters approved a reduced bond sale that will be used for improvements to both District 67 schools and to build a new gym at Hynes Elementary School.
Though it was worded differently than the tax hike referendum in March, voters this month again rejected a tax hike.
Hennessy said it might be possible to reduce the amount of the increase by about $200,000 because some building repairs and improvements that had been put in the regular budget will be done instead with proceeds from the bond sale, she said.
“We do have less expenses now,” she said. “May be we could lower the amount.”
But Louise Karlin, a member of the finance committee, said the board needs to keep in mind a proposal to restore all-day kindergarten had the tax hike passed. The district switched to half-day kindergarten as one of several spending cuts.
“I don’t want to see people not moving into the district because we don’t have all-day kindergarten,” Karlin said.
Board members asked Hennessy to develop some options for the finance committee to consider Monday.
The February vote will hinge on whether DiMaria or someone else files for the primary election. Filing begins Nov. 19 and runs through Nov. 26.
“There’s a very small window of time to decide what to do with this,” said Board President Meryl Gale.
“I see us having Thanksgiving dinner together,” Superintendent Jamie Reilly quipped.
With regard to the bond sale, Hennessy said rates are currently low. For a 15-year payback period as District 67 is planning. The rate in November is 1.59 percent, she said.
The timetable for the bond sale requires the school board to approve a bond resolution at its Dec. 6 meeting and a close on the bond sale Dec. 28.