The Maine Township High School District 207 school board on Sept. 4 approved a $138.2 million budget for the 2012-2013 school year, up about $400,000 from the tentative budget approved in July. The budget includes projected revenues of $142.3 million, up about $1.6 million from the tentative budget.
The budget passed 5-1, with board member Edward Mueller voting against it.
“I think it’s a mistake to raise taxes,” Mueller said, reiterating his objection to the tentative budget, which he also voted against.
The tentative budget projects a 3.8 percent increase, or $3.5 million more than last year, in property taxes, according to Mary Kalou, the assistant superintendent for business, but much of that increase is due to the unprecedented timing of the second installment Cook County property tax bills, which were mailed in July and due Aug. 1.
“That hasn’t happened in at least 40 years, and probably longer,” said Kalou, who noted that the district has already received about 20 percent of its revenue for the year.
Partially because of that timing, Kalou said the budget now projects a $4 million surplus for the year. However, about $2 million of that is because the state will reimburse the district this year for services provided to two residential facilities programs last year.
, so there will be no further reimbursements after this year. Another $1 million of the surplus is due to the timing of the property tax payments. The rest of the surplus is about $1 million, less than 1 percent of the district’s anticipated spending.
Mueller said the district always has a surplus, and generally ends the year with a larger surplus than it expects because it tends to overestimate its spending and underestimate its revenue – leading officials to ask for more in new taxes than the district really needs.
“I think there’s a pattern where we tend to outperform our budget,” he said. “It distorts to some extent our taxes.”
In addition to the increase caused by the timing of the tax collection, the district expected to see higher property tax revenues this year because of the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and a 3 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index last year, which will allow the district to ask for 3 percent more in taxes from property owners next year.
District 207 includes and high schools in Park Ridge and in Des Plaines.