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updated: 4/9/2013 9:43 PM

Millburn District 24 voters approve tax hike

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Voters gave permission Tuesday to Millburn Elementary District 24 to shore up its finances and avoid potential program cuts.

With all 12 precincts reporting, unofficial results showed the tax hike measure passed easily, 867 to 732.

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It allows District 24 to push the property tax levy increase limit from 5 percent to 12 percent next year, generating $900,000 and setting a higher financial base for the future.

The owner of a single-family house with a $200,000 market value will pay an extra $228 in property taxes the first year.

Covering an area that includes Lindenhurst, Wadsworth and unincorporated Lake County, District 24 asked to go beyond a state-imposed cap on annual property tax levy increases only on bills issued in 2014.

School officials say they needed the ability to make up for $1.3 million in state and federal education funding cuts in the past four years. Millburn, a K-8 district with 1,450 students, has trimmed $3.3 million in expenses in that time.

Had the increase been rejected, Superintendent Jason Lind said, "special classes" such as art and music could have been eliminated.

Nearly two years ago, District 24 voters soundly defeated a tax hike to generate about $2 million to replace lost state funding. Since then, state funding cuts have worsened, prompting officials to return with a smaller request.

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