District 200 abates taxes for fifth straight year, becomes debt free

December 15, 2016

For the fifth year in a row, District 200 plans to make its annual bond and interest payment from cash reserves rather than raising taxes. Furthermore, the payment of $1.02 million is the final one on bonds issued in 2005 and means that the district will have no outstanding debt.

Over the past four years, the district has cut its portion of local property taxes by more than $30 million, through two means: reducing the annual tax levy by a total of $20.2 million and, with this final payment, paying $11.1 million in principal and interest on outstanding bonds from the fund balance rather than collecting new taxes. The compounding effect of these reductions has been projected to save taxpayers a total of $72 million over the course of ten years.

“I’m proud of the work the district has done to cut taxes by tens of millions of dollars while at the same time maintaining excellent educational programming and becoming debt free,” Board President Jeff Weissglass said. He added that according to district financial advisers at William Blair & Company, being debt free is very unusual for a school district, regardless of size. Bond rating agencies look very favorably on districts with no debt, which in turn lowers interest rates for any future borrowing.

In taking actions to reduce property owners’ tax burden, the Board has been following recommendations provided by its 2013 Finance Advisory Committee. Based on those recommendations the Board is aiming to bring the total fund balance below 40% of expenses gradually and responsibly by 2023. In this era of increasing taxes the district has not only returned over $30 million to property owners but also slowed the growth in property taxes while maintaining the district's excellent reputation.