By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy School Board put its stamp of approval on the district's 2012 tax levy Wednesday night.
The proposed levy calls for seeking just more than $33 million in property taxes. While that's up about $1.3 million from last year's levy, the School District's tax rate is expected to drop to about $4.01 per $100 equalized assessed valuation. The rate was nearly $4.04 this past year.
The board adopted the levy on a 6-0 vote. Jeff Mays was absent, although he participated in the early part of the meeting by telephone hookup. The phone connection wasn't working at the time the levy vote was taken.
Each individual fund within the district's total tax levy will get more money next year because of the higher EAV. For example, the Education Fund is expected to receive nearly $15.2 million, an increase of 4.9 percent from the $14.47 million extended to that fund last year.
Projected revenue going to most other funds will rise between 4.3 and 4.9 percent -- with the exception of the Tort Fund, which is expected to increase just 1.75 percent, and the Social Security Fund, which is expected to drop by about 5.9 percent.
The School Board engaged in a debate Wednesday over the use of the Tort Fund to pay costs related to risk management expenses.
The Tort Fund levy for 2012 was set at $2.16 million, up slightly from last year's levy of $2.12 million. The rate had been bumped up to $2.1 million in the 2010 tax year from the $1 million levied in both 2009 and 2008, when the district was embroiled in a lawsuit challenging the way the tax was being applied.
The Tort Fund levy was raised in 2010 to more accurately reflect the district's actual costs for tort-related expenses as identified in the district's risk management plan, school officials said at that time.
At Wednesday's meeting, board member Scott Stone cast the only vote against the adoption of a new, but basically unchanged, risk-management plan. He said he felt the district shouldn't be using that fund to pay a portion of the salaries for certain individuals whose duties are related to risk management. Other board members disagreed, saying they felt the use of the Tort Fund for this purpose was appropriate and supported by court rulings.
In other action, the board approved a plan to let students from the Quincy Area Vocational-Technical Center's building trades classes carry out renovations to the district-owned house at 2424 High St.
Once the renovation work is completed over the next 18 months, the district will be in a position to sell the house and use the proceeds to buy another dilapidated home that could be fixed up, marketed and sold as part of an educational experience for students.
The board attempted to sell the High Street property at an auction last June 30. However, the high bid of $16,000 failed to meet the undisclosed minimum selling price established by the School Board. So the board decided to hold on to the house for a while longer.
The board heard a report from Chief of Security Billy Meyer on the security of Quincy's school buildings in light of the Connecticut school shootings last week. He said the Quincy School District is ahead of many other districts in its security measures, which include having metal detectors and guards at the entrance to each school building.
The board approved a plan to begin using a new state-run service to collect delinquent debts. The board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the state comptroller's office to become part of the Local Debt Recovery Program.
Under the proposal, any debts the district is unable to recover can be forwarded to the comptroller's office in accordance with a state law that went into effect in December 2011. The law gives the comptroller authority to withhold cash in the amount owed to the district from any state checks to be sent to an individual, including state income tax refunds. In addition, a $15 fee would be withheld.
The board also approved a proposal to engage Franczek Radelet, a Chicago law firm, to prepare and file claims asking the state to recalculate the district's state aid for tax years 2005 through 2012.