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Local

Amboy schools seeking tax hike

Money would help pay for voter-approved high-junior high project

Voters approved a referendum that will allow Amboy School District to build a nearly $16 million addition onto the high school to upgrade the facility and serve as the future home for the junior high. The district saw an increase in homes' equalized assessed value, and so is seeking a 5.98 percent hike in its property tax levy, primarily to help pay for operating and maintenance costs, and transportation.
Voters approved a referendum that will allow Amboy School District to build a nearly $16 million addition onto the high school to upgrade the facility and serve as the future home for the junior high. The district saw an increase in homes' equalized assessed value, and so is seeking a 5.98 percent hike in its property tax levy, primarily to help pay for operating and maintenance costs, and transportation.

AMBOY – Generating more revenue for the school district will be the focus of next week's board meeting.

Amboy, like many districts, saw an increase in homes' equalized assessed value, and so is seeking a 5.98 percent hike in its property tax levy, primarily to help pay for operating and maintenance costs, and transportation.

If the full 5.98 percent increase is imposed, it will add about $265 a year to the tax bill of the owner of a $100,000 home, and raise about $417,000 a year more, but Superintendent Joshua Nichols is actually expecting that much of a hike.

"We propose more, but don't usually get that amount," he said. "We levied 6.3 percent in 2017, but only got 4.92 percent because the equalizes assessed value came back lower."

Because the increase is more than 5 percent, the district will hold a truth-in-taxation hearing at the Dec. 13 meeting. The hearing is required by law, but only to inform taxpayers of its plans – the district does not need to change course based on anything that is said at the hearing.

The money allocated for the operations and management fund will help pay for a $16.3 million project to move the junior high to the high school and upgrade the building.

"Like the last referendum, we asked voters for $15.8 million even though construction prices and tariffs have increased our cost," Nichols said. "We didn't want to ask for more from the bond sales since we have other ways to help pay for the remainder of the cost" – including using tax levy revenue, borrowing sales tax revenue and dipping into the district's reserve fund.

The project will add about 54,000 square feet to the high school at 11 E. Hawley St. that will include a new gym and front entrance, an art room and media center/library, and a two-story addition for the new junior high school that will have its own cafeteria, administration office and about 20 classrooms.

The nearly 100-year-old junior high at 40 S. Appleton Ave. is in need of costly renovation, hence the move.

"We're starting to get the engineers and architects lined up, but there is still a lot more to do, but we hope to break ground in June," Nichols said.

Construction will take about 2 years.

Next meeting

A public hearing for the proposed tax levy will be held at the Amboy School Board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 13, in the library at Amboy High School 11 E. Hawley St.

Call 815-857-2164, go to amboy.net or find the Amboy school district on Facebook for more information.

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