Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012, 9:49 pm

Orion schools raise levy, hold tax rate steady

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By Lisa Hammer, rlhammer@qconline.com

Orion school board members Wednesday night set a tentative property tax levy of $6,189,508, up 2.96 percent from last year's levy of $6,011,487.

Superintendent David Deets said the Henry County clerk's office estimates the district's equalized assessed valuation (EAV) will rise only 2 percent this year, but it was fiscally conservative to set the levy a little higher to capture all possible funds.

"It's the political aspect of kind of sending a false signal," said Mr. Deets. He added he would raise the levy at either 3 or 5 percent, depending on the board's direction. Board member Larry Atkinson suggested a 3 percent.

"We're not in an area where EAV in going up," he said.

Board president Doug Nelson said a 3 percent increase would send a "solid message" that the board is doing its job trying to be fiscally prudent.

The tax rate will remain unchanged at $4.2662 per $100 assessed valuation.

"There was a time we were building a surplus in transportation," said Mr. Nelson. "One time we voted to lower that rate. Unfortunately it hasn't been that case in too many categories. Hopefully we get to that point again someday."

A hearing on the tax levy is planned at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at the unit office.

Also on Wednesday night, board members voted 5-2 in support of a 1-cent sales tax referendum on the April 13 ballot. Karl Kane and Mr. Atkinson opposed it.

"I've done a lot of inquiring into this, and 90 percent of the people I talk to think it would be a great idea," Mr. Atkinson said. "My problem is I don't think it will pass. I know Henry County and I have my doubts about that."

Mr. Kane said businesses were having a hard enough time without adding a 1-cent tax.

"There's too much of everybody wanting somebody else to pay for their stuff," he said.

The board also:

* Approved a sewer easement agreement with the village. Board members said that, as the town's largest water customer, the $16,000 cost would come back to the district anyway.

* Approved buying 23 narrow-band radios mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Arrowhead Ranch for custodial services.

* Accepted the resignation of Marcia Coffman as an aide.

* Learned six people have picked up petitions for school board candidacy.