News - Sauk Valley

Sterling school board approves tax levy of nearly $14.4 million

Julie Aitken, treasurer for the Sterling Public Schools board of education, served as moderater for the regular meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. President Pam Capes, while in attendance, was medically masked and could not speak audibly.

STERLING — Sterling Public Schools held a truth in taxation hearing Wednesday prior to its regular meeting of the board of education, which then approved its request to apply for a tax levy of nearly $14.4 million from the county clerks of Whiteside and Lee counties.

By law, the district held the hearing because the request reflects an increase of $503,500 over the previous year’s levy. Any time the request is more than 5% over a prior year, the district is obliged to hold a hearing.

The administration attributed the increase to the county clerks’ assessments that the Equalized Assessed Value of taxable property in the district had also risen.

Broken down, the district says it will need $9.9 million to meet the educational needs of the students. Operating and maintaining the schools requires another $1.9 million.

Timothy Schwingle, director of finance for Sterling Public Schools, briefly presents the proposed tax levy during a truth in taxation hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 at Sterling High School library.

Transportation costs will be an estimated $766,000, retirement obligations are $300,000, Social Security obligations are $600,000, tort immunity $640,000, special education $153,500, and facility leasing fees $96,000.

While the tax levy does not represent the entirety of a school district’s budget — state and federal subsidies comprise the remainder — the levy usually serves as an outline of the district’s spending needs.

A month earlier, the administration conducted an informational session demonstrating that its request for a greater levy was not a reflection of a change in its tax rate. On the contrary, the district estimates that to meet the levy, the tax rate will be unchanged or slightly lessened.

In a related matter, the board approved a resolution approving the abatement of 2022 bond and interest tax levy for the 2017 general obligation bonds.

The administration said the $885,887 in bonds were issued with the intent to pay them back using revenue generated by the school facility occupation tax in the two counties.

In other action

— The board held a first reading on a slight change in the district board policy language involving a search of students’ belongings. The change is that a written report on the action must be made and given to the superintendent. The change now adds “superintendent or designee.”

— Superintendent Tad Everett plans to retire in 2028, according to a retirement contract presented and accepted and accepted by the board.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.