Better-than-expected financial news in Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 has prompted officials to suspend plans to ask voters for a tax hike during the spring election.
The district ended fiscal year 2012 with a surplus of about $2.2 million, Superintendent Elaine Aumiller said. That means the district should be able to maintain the status quo in the near future without resorting to staff/program cuts or asking voters for additional tax revenue next year.
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Aumiller stressed, though, that the unexpected surplus isn't likely to repeat itself in the future.
"It's the result of some unique extenuating circumstances from the past year," she said. "So we still need to be vigilant and conservative in our budgeting. That said, it was a pleasant surprise for us."
Aumiller attributed the surplus to a number of factors. First, the district collected about $488,000 more in property taxes than expected. She said the bump was likely due to lower-than-expected refunds from property tax appeals.
The district also received more revenue from the state and federal governments than expected, Aumiller said. In all, revenues for fiscal year 2012 came in $1.4 million higher than planned.
At the same time, the district spent about $795,000 less than planned, the result of various surprise circumstances. One example was the mild 2011 winter, which allowed the district to spend less on snow removal and other weather-related services.
District 57, like other school districts in the area, has struggled with rising costs and flat or declining revenues in recent years. To help balance the budget, the district froze administrative salaries, laid off employees and increased class sizes, among other measures.
Despite those efforts, district leaders had talked about approaching voters in April with a request for a tax hike. That won't happen now.
"We have a bit of breathing room," Aumiller said. "But the future remains a challenge."