The Lyons Township School Treasurer’s Office came under fire Sept. 16 as the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board approved a $71 million budget for 2013-14.
Board members expressed frustration over not having final investment figures for closing the school’s 2012-13 budget June 30, as well as having a basis for revenue projections in the 2013-14 spending plan.
The treasurer’s office invests more than $159 million in assets for the high school and 12 other school districts and educational cooperatives in La Grange, Western Springs, Burr Ridge and other towns.
“In the past there would have been some forecasting, some projections and a set of expectations from investment performance,” business manager David Sellers told the board. “I’m still awaiting investment earnings from April through June. I have asked but the information is not forthcoming.”
A letter dated Sept. 11 on the school treasurer’s website for the 2013 fiscal year ending June 30 indicated interest on investments had been earned for member districts in September 2012. But market losses in the second quarter wiped out gains.
The treasurer’s office had a dispute with their previous auditing firm, Baker Tilly, and hired a new one, Miller Cooper & Co., Ltd., Sept. 9, which is delaying final figures, Township Treasurer’s Board President Mike Thiessen acknowledged in a letter on the website.
Thiessen said there may be some “undistributed funds accrued during the previous treasurer’s oversight.” But he is seeking clarification from the new auditors before distributing the funds. It wasn’t specified how much money is involved.
The previous township treasurer, Robert Healy, was charged in August with stealing more than $1.5 million from the office during his 24-year tenure there. The treasurer’s office board sued Healy in October, seeking to recover more than $500,000.
Despite the uncertainty of the District 204’s investment income, the board unanimously approved a new budget, up 5.6 percent from last year’s expenditures of $67 million.
Revenues in the coming year are projected to increase by 4.5 percent from $68 million to $72 million, leaving a surplus of $889,000. The revenue increase stems primarily from property taxes going up by 3.4 percent from $58 million to $60 million.
The district’s investment revenue is projected to increase slightly by 3.2 percent from $611,000 to $630,000 in 2013-14. It fell an estimated 18.4 percent in 2012-13 from $749,000 the prior year to $611,000.
Salary costs are anticipated to go up by 4 percent, though the collective bargaining agreement with faculty is tied to the Consumer Price Index and limits base salary increases to 2.4 percent. The cost of benefits is projected to rise by 2.9 percent to $7.6 million.
The board in April approved facilities improvements of $2.9 million, of which $932,000 was earmarked for projects completed in July and August with the remaining $2 million to be spent in the summer of 2014.
The board also approved a bond issue not to exceed $21 million for renovations, tentatively including $5.3 million to upgrade the cafeteria and $3.7 million to improve the Reber Center, both at the north campus in La Grange.
Other projects include improving Internet access at both campuses and upgrades to the tennis courts and science labs at the south campus in Western Springs.
The bond issue will be paid off over the next 10 years as nearly $20 million in debt is retired from the previous decade, so the district’s tax rate won’t be increased.