District 404 board prepares for possible tax caps

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
School board members, including board President Julie Wagner, far left, toured Mercer County High School in October 2015 to see for themselves some of the work that may be needed in that building.

The Mercer County District 404 Board of Education Wednesday (Jan. 13) approved selling a maximum of $750,000 in Working Cash Fund Bonds over two years. Bonds for half of the amount will be issued in seven days.

"We're trying to build a base (in case) they cap property taxes" in Springfield, School Board President Julie Wagner said. "The intent is to do half this year and see what they do in Springfield."

If taxes are capped, the district would be in bind without the money from these bonds. The bonds will be repaid at the end of the current fiscal year.

"Next year if they cap, we can repeat the process," Wagner said.

She said because of the uncertainty as to what, if anything, will be done with tax caps in Springfield, "there's a lot of districts doing this."

In other financial action, the board approved a resolution to apply for Qualified School Construction Bond Designations. Wagner said the state has millions of dollars remaining from stimulus money from the federal government in 2008. The bonds are offered at 0 percent interest.

District 404's Building and Grounds Committee and head of maintenance went through all the district buildings since the board's December meeting and made of list of projects that are needed. Based on that, the board will apply for just more than $4.9 million.

"That's kind of our wish list for all of our buildings," she said.

The application is submitted to the Illinois State Board of Education. Wagner said the applications are prioritized based on need.

"There is no timeline as to when they will let us know," she said.

The district could be approved for all the money, a portion of it or nothing. There is 25 years to pay off the bonds.

"That is very doable," Wagner said.

The board also discussed the superintendent search. The Illinois Association of School Boards in December presented the Mercer County board with six candidates. Those candidates were interviewed locally on Jan. 4, 7 and 8.

"We are doing reference checks, looking at possible second interviews and site visits," she said. "Our goal is to hire someone by the February meeting."