Breaking News Bar

Proposed Du Quoin school district levy rises slightly over last year

By Renee Trappe
updated: 11/29/2019 11:28 AM

The Du Quoin school board has released its proposed property tax levy for Unit District 300, and it is about 1.1% higher than the levy for 2019.

The school board is expected to vote on the levy at the Dec. 19 meeting, which will include a public hearing.

The new levy, to be collected from property owners in 2020, totals about $3.342 million, about $38,000 higher than the 2019 levy of $3.304 million.

Superintendent Matt Hickam said Monday that the proposal is essentially a hold-the-line levy, that accounts for some expected rising costs.

It also takes into account that the minimum wage in Illinois is going to rise incrementally over the next five years to eventually reach $15 per hour in 2025.

Du Quoin is not affected by legislation calling for all public school teachers to earn a minimum of $40,000 by 2023-24, as teachers already make that much here, Hickam added.

However, the district is in the second year of a three-year teacher contract, and talks will begin in about a year, he said.

A person's tax bill is dependent on three factors -- the levies passed by government bodies which determine how much property tax money they need to run their agencies; the equalized assessed valuation of the property, and the tax rate, which is determined from the levy and EAV.

Hickam said the school district's tax rate is expected to decrease next year, like it has over the past decade. However, if a person's property value increases, they will likely pay more to the schools.

The levy amounts do not include what is levied for bond and interest payments, as those are not controlled by the school district.

Hickam said Unit District 300 has been able to improve its finances and has refilled some teaching positions that went vacant in leaner times. The district's budgets are now about balanced, he added.

"We try to be conservative on what we expect to receive in revenue and liberal about what we intend to spend," he said.

Hickam said the state's new evidence-based funding formula has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in more state aid, which has made the difference for District 300.

"It's put us back to where we were 11 or 12 years ago," Hickam said.