Maine Township High School District 207 will ask residents for about $109 million next year.
That's an increase of 4.19 percent from the amount the district collected in 2012, according to the proposed levy the school board approved Nov. 5.
The board voted 5-1 to approve the proposed tax levy – the amount the district will ask Cook County to collect on its behalf. It will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 before taking a final vote on the levy.
The sole no vote came from school board member Edward Mueller.
“I’ve voted consistently no for any tax increase for about two years, maybe a little longer,” Mueller said. “This seems higher than what we’ve approved in the last couple of years. I think we’re going in the wrong direction.”
But board member Eldon Burk said the district has no choice but to ask for as much tax money as it's entitled to, given that the Illinois legislature is considering pushing responsibility for teacher pension payments back to local school districts, creating a massive financial liability for the districts.
“There’s so much uncertainty about expenses that probably will be pushed back to us, we have to do this now,” said Burk, who is on the finance committee with Mueller and board member Eric Leys.
Leys emphasized that the committee had forwarded the proposed levy to the school board without a recommendation of whether they should vote for it or not.
Leys said he agrees with Mueller’s reluctance to add to the tax burden of local homeowners, but said that with the pension situation and the district’s upcoming capital improvement needs, he was voting “reluctantly yes.”
Superintendent Ken Wallace pointed out that the increase in the levy is higher than usual because it is capturing newly available tax revenue from the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.
A memo to the board from Kalou said that the district probably won’t be able to get the entire 4.19 percent increase because of the state tax cap. Under Kalou’s most likely scenario, the district should expect $108.6 million, or a 3.69 percent increase.
District 207 includes Maine East and Maine South high schools in Park Ridge and Maine West High School in Des Plaines.