Minooka schools to get more state aid than expected
By Kris Stadalsky For The Herald-News July 10, 2012 7:48AM
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:24PM
MINOOKA — Minooka Grade School District is looking forward to getting more than a half million dollars more in state aid.
Superintendent Al Gegenheimer sought the help of retired superintendent Ralph Haldorson.
Haldorson works with school districts on recalculating their EAV (equalized assessed valuation) for state aid purposes, with the hopes of finding the most accurate numbers available.
Haldorson found two important discrepancies that he, Gegenheimer and the counties were able to rectify and will result in $600,000 more in state aid for the district.
Because current general state aid formulas are based on previous years of explosive residential growth in the district, both the district and Minooka High School District are considered wealthy districts by the state, reducing the amount of aid they receive, Gegenheimer said.
“The state thinks we are wealthy,” Gegenheimer said. “We have a lot of EAV wealth but not the operating tax rate to use it.”
The discrepancies found by Gegenheimer and Haldorson involve a property tax settlement between local taxing bodies and Dynegy Energy reached in June 2011, which should have, but didn’t, reduce the district’s EAV for state aid purposes. The other is a credit for lost EAV the district didn’t get from the Macy’s tax abatement agreement.
The 2011 tax bills, based on the district’s 2010 levy, went out before the Dynegy settlement took place, so the school districts never had access to $19 million that was reduced from Dynegy’s EAV. The state assumed it was part of the tax base for both school districts.
For the grade school district, that meant a reduction in state aid of $450,000. For the high school, the reduction was about $100,000, Gegenheimer said.
Discovering the missed credit for the Macy’s abatement has resulted in an EAV reduction of nearly $3 million for the grade schools and will bring an additional $50,000 in state aid.
The counties all worked together with Gegenheimer and Haldorson to correct the inconsistencies, said Gegenheimer. It was a new process for all parties.
“This hasn’t been done before in this school district,” he said.