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Dist. 201 adds additional levy

Needed to make up money not paid by industries

MINOOKA — The Minooka Grade School District 201 board of education approved a supplemental tax levy Wednesday night to make up for $1.3 million in property tax money not paid by local industry.

While the rest of the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, it’s likely to only raise the district’s tax rate by five or six cents per $100 of assessed valuation each year for the next three years, said Superintendent Al Gegenheimer.

The shortfall is a result of issues with two industrial companies, Equistar Chemicals and Dynergy-Kendall Power.

When Equistar declared bankruptcy, District 201 did not receive the pledged taxes levied for 2008 and 2009, totaling $1,175,648. Other taxing bodies were affected as well.

A dispute over Dynergy-Kendall‘s property value resulted in the company’s taxes being lowered by the Property Tax Appeals Board (PTAB) and District 201 had to refund $126,807.73 for taxing years 2001 through 2011, said Gegenheimer.

To make up for the shortfall in the district’s budget, the board of education approved a supplemental levy of $434,152.08 a year for taxing years 2012 (payable in 2013) through 2014.

The money will be used to repay the district’s bond and interest fund. The district is required by law to make sure all bonds are paid on time, so money has been coming out of the main operating fund, Gegenheimer said.

The general obligation bonds were issued in 2008 to build two schools and renovate two others. Had the industrial shortfalls not occurred, the district would have the money to pay the bonds.

“We are shorted $1.3 million and we have to get it back,” Gegenheimer said. “We don’t want to cause a bump in the tax rate by paying it in one year, so (taxpayers) are paying it over three years.”

Board member Doug Mar-tin voted against the supplemental levy. Following the meeting he explained his “no” vote, saying he thought it was premature to change the levy until a settlement is finalized with industrial company LyondellBasell (the current operator of the Equistar plant), which has also appealed its property value.

“Then we would know exactly what the amounts would be,” Martin said.

Gegenheimer responded that the supplemental levy won’t change no matter the LyondellBasell settlement.

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