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Article updated: 1/17/2012 3:45 PM

Fox Lake D114 puts tax rate referendum on the ballot

By Lee Filas

Fox Lake Elementary District 114 voters will decide in March whether to support a 25-cent tax rate request that would generate $3.75 million in revenue for the district.

District officials say the choice is one of approving the question to maintain the current tax rate and keep existing class sizes and programs, or oppose it and lower taxes and face the prospect of cutbacks.

"We aren't asking for more money or to raise taxes," Superintendent John Donnellan said. "We are asking that residents keep the tax rate where it's at in order for us to maintain our current class sizes and programs."

The referendum question on the March 20 ballot mirrors one that voters approved in March 2006 for a 25-cent tax rate hike to generate $3.75 million of additional revenue to the district.

At that time, District 114 officials said a defeat at the polls would mean the district would have to cut programs, teachers, and school hours by 50 minutes per day.

That 25-cent tax rate increase is set to retire in 2012, Donnellan said, and would result in a property tax reduction. He said the owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $166 less in property taxes to the school district if that money is not replaced.

However, the district is asking voters to maintain the rate approved in 2006 for another five years, allowing the district to pull another $3.75 million for the working cash fund.

"We are just asking taxpayers to allow us to keep what they already authorized six years ago," he said. "We haven't put a list of potential cuts together yet, but it's safe to say that if the referendum fails, the district will turn in a balanced budget and cuts will have to be made. That means programs will be cut and class sizes will go up."

He said it's unclear when a detailed list of possible cuts would be discussed by district officials.

"We are attempting to think positive right now and we haven't gone over a list of cuts that will be necessary in case the referendum isn't approved," Donnellan said. "But, it's something we will be looking at in the coming months."

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