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Unit 2 aims for 2.3% tax increase


 
BY CURTIS WINSTON
Contributing Writer
Posted on 11/20/2020, 4:53 PM

MARION -- The Marion Unit 2 Board of Education on Tuesday night unanimously approved a proposed tax levy, which will amount to a 2.3-percent increase.

As presented by Chief Financial Officer Kim Watson, Unit 2 is actually asking for an increase of 18.73 percent, up from last year's 18.66.

She explained that the percentage is an estimate, made "four to five months before what we know what the actual equalized assessed valuations will be."

More importantly, she added, "we must adhere to the property tax extension limitation law," which sets the actual increase on existing properties at the lesser of 5 percent or the increase in the consumer price index. This year's CPI rose 2.3 percent.

"So even though our tax increase is estimated at 18.73 percent, we will not get more than 2.3 percent," Watson said. She added that the district asks for 18.73 percent in order to capture revenue from possible new development.

A public hearing on the tax levy is set for 5:45 p.m. on December 17, just before next month's board meeting. Notice of the levy will be published in a local weekly newspaper.

Board President John Barwick thanked Watson for the clear presentation of the tax levy, and he hoped that it would make the facts clearer. "Each year, after publication of the notice, the board is inundated with questions."

And board member B.W. Bruce sought clarification. "So Kim, your saying instead of what the notice says, that taxes are going up 18 percent, they are actually only allowed to go up 2.3 percent?"

"That's correct," she replied.

After several months of meeting in the MHS auditorium, the Marion Unit 2 Board of Education was back at the administrative center on Cherry Street, social-distancing with masks on and a stripped-down staff of the superintendent, five board members and a guest, the district's auditor, all captured on an unmoving camera and broadcast to Facebook Live.

In-person were Barwick, Bruce and members Cindy Gibbons and Steve Cook. Vice President Joe Bleyer handled roll calls as board secretary, filling in for Monica Lynn. Present via teleconference were board members Patty Bundren and Brandi Bradley.

In other business, the board approved the following 7-0:

-- A "clean" audit report, as presented by Kim Walker of Kemper CPA Group.

-- The consent agenda, including donations of doughnuts from Alpha Delta Kappa to district employees and $250 from Kimberly Owsley to the Marion High School Future Farmers of America.

-- A letter of agreement from Western Governors University for student teachers.

-- The resignation of Alyssa Patterson, secretary at Marion Junior High School.

Oates has also announced that school will not be in session from Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Friday, Nov. 27 in observance of Thanksgiving, a legal holiday.

Classes will resume at the regular starting time on Monday, Nov. 30.