District 211 aims to stay out of debt with tentative budget
Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board of education members Thursday voted 5-2 to set the tentative budget for the year ahead at $262.2 million.
With the district having recently become debt-free, officials say their new goal is to stay that way.
Superintendent Dan Cates described his sixth and final budget as the fruition of the long-running fiscal discipline of the board, reinforced by the strategic plan adopted in 2016.
Though Cates will retire next summer, he said he hopes the proposed budget can serve as a blueprint for the future in maintaining the district's educational programs and facilities without incurring any of the debt he sees as the most significant driver of cost and tax increases.
The tentative budget's costs represent a 0.6% increase from the previous year's actual costs, while the budgeted revenues of $266.1 million are up 1% from the actual amount collected in 2018-19.
The tentative budget is projected to generate a surplus of $3.9 million to be used for future capital improvements and life safety projects.
The new budget reflects a $2 million reduction of the last property tax levy, made possible by a nearly $1.3 million property tax relief grant.
Budgeted as revenue, but not to be spent this year, is $17.7 million from the planned sale of a 62-acre piece of property in Schaumburg.
The budget also plans to allocate $5 million from operating fund reserves to eliminate the district's current unfunded liability amount with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
Board Member Mark Cramer cited this as the reason for his vote against the tentative budget, calling it an unnecessary contribution to what he considered Illinois' most stable retirement fund.
Fellow Member Peter Dombrowski, on the other hand, said the strongest reason for his no vote was the budget's revenues being driven by the rise in inflation at the time of last December's property tax levy, before any increase in needs were identified.
A public hearing and potential approval of the final budget are scheduled for Sept. 19.