Glenbrook District 225 finances solid despite Cook County delay
Glenbrook High School District 225 approved its fiscal year 2022-23 budget earlier this month.
The best estimate of revenues coming in and expenditures going out to operate Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South high schools from this July 1 through June 30, 2023, was explained with typical precision by district Associate Superintendent R.J. Gravel, assisted by Director of Business Services Vicki Tarver.
The budget's direct revenues totaled $166.1 million, and direct expenditures totaled $171 million. Using a one-time purposeful use of fund balance for debt service of $833,300 and for capital projects of $3.7 million, the final 2022-23 budget was balanced at $166.1 million.
Revenues and expenditures both were higher than they were in the final 2021-22 budget. Reflecting a return to pre-COVID conditions, expenditures are estimated to increase by 10.78% over the previous term.
Those capital projects include new rigging and theater improvements at Glenbrook South; security enhancements; the Total Classroom Initiative that has updated 196 classrooms, 33 study halls, peer group rooms and resource centers in both schools (science improvements yet to come); and the $590,000 Glenbrook South Health Center set to open in October.
The board approved the budget by a 7-0 vote.
What was mildly concerning, and will likely necessitate an amended budget next spring, is what Gravel called a "holding pattern" waiting for the Cook County tax rate report.
While District 225 anticipates an increase in local property tax receipts of $12.86 million -- due partially to The Glen coming onto the tax rolls after the Village of Glenview dissolved its tax incentive financing district in December 2021 -- Cook County's tax report will be months late.
Due to what Gravel said is "lots of transitioning happening" -- Northfield Township had explained the delays resulting from "a new integrated property tax system" -- he believes the county's rate report will be out in late October or early November, then will take another two weeks to finalize.
Because of that, property tax bills that normally go out in July might not be out until December, he said. The board typically starts making its tax levy request in November with approval in December.
Normally by this time, Gravel said, the district would know how much property tax revenue to expect from second-installment 2021 bills, which could then be used to anticipate 2022 receipts.
"For a school district that's approximately 94% locally funded, not receiving your local funding for 120-plus days is a significant concern not only to our school district but others," Gravel said.
"Fortunately, we've been able to continue to ensure that we have no discrepancy in the payment of our bills and things of that nature through that available cash in hand and mature investments."
As a district that spends $25,800 annually per pupil, Gravel said District 225 has about 170 days worth of operating funds through investments and liquid cash.
He added that the district is "most certainly fulfilling our obligations ..."
In another novelty, with a 7% growth in the inflation rate from December 2020 to December 2021, as the Daily Herald's Jake Griffin wrote on Sept. 11, taxing bodies could seek a maximum 5% increase.
The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), passed in Illinois in 1991 and applied to Cook County in 1994, according to The Civic Federation, limits a tax levy to the lesser of 5% or the rate of inflation.
From 2016-2020, District 225's property tax rate averaged 2.098 with a high of 2.216 in 2018. In 2020, at a rate of 2.0832 the owner of a $500,000 home owed about $3,149 to the district in taxes.
Gravel said taxes should be raised only to fund programs.
"The tax levy should never be assumed," he said.
To ease the task of wading through the district's 140-page budget document, the district will provide a Budget in Brief on its website, glenbrook225.org, and in the district newsletter sent to families.