District 200 will ask voters for $132.5 million

 
 
Posted12/1/2016 5:30 AM
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Voters living within the boundaries of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 will be faced with a $132.5 million referendum question in the spring.

The board came to a consensus on the amount to request on the April 4 ballot during a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday.

If approved, the money would help fund about $154.5 million in capital and educational improvements at the district's schools. The $22 million gap, the board agreed, would be filled with money the district already has on hand in reserves and by earmarking new and existing revenues.

The proposed work would be completed over five years and result in more secure entries, library renovations, roof replacements and science room improvements. It also includes updates to the mechanical, plumbing and, in some cases, electrical systems at all the schools. A new early childhood center would be constructed as well.

The board was previously debating whether the request should be for $150 million, which would result in a $200 a year increase for the owner of a $322,000 home, or $130 million, which would drop the increase to about $175 a year for the same homeowner.

About 51 percent of District 200 residents who responded to a phone survey earlier this year said they would "strongly favor" or "favor" a tax increase of $225 for a $325,000 home. Those in favor increased to 54 percent when the cost was lowered to $200, and to 58 percent when the cost went down to $175.

On Wednesday, the board discussed the Sherman-Dergis formula, which is used by taxing bodies nationwide to help shape long-term plans to fund capital needs. District officials determined that if the board were to stick to that model and secure the $132.5 million through the referendum, the district should start setting aside about $2.4 million each year to prepare for future capital repairs.

According to the same model, if voters do not approve the tax increase in the spring, the district should start setting aside about $6.5 million annually to prepare for future capital repairs.

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