United School District pursuing maintenance grant, approves tax levy

The District 304 School Board approved pursuing a $50,000 maintenance grant funded by the Illinois State Board of Education.

The United School District is in the midst of health, life, safety upgrades that the district had bonded $6.5 million for last winter to do several projects.

Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt says that the project the district will be using the grant for is a $280,000 light replacement project at the football field, replacing the older lamps with LEDs.

“So we’re going to submit that grant and hopefully, basically, get $50,000 from the state to go towards that so the cost of our lights goes down from that,” Whitsitt tells WGIL. “We had several projects we could have plugged in there [but that’s a clean one.] Pretty easy to justify.”

Whitsitt says there are several items as part of the Health, Life, Safety upgrades, including a $1.2 million roof replacement at the district’s west campus.

He also said that the well at the high school has run its course and the district will either dig a new well or find a way to connect to the City of Monmouth’s water supply.

The Board of Education also approved a tax levy of around $8.2 million at their meeting on Thursday night, up from $7.8 million last year.

Superintendent Whitsitt says that it’s too early to have an accurate Equalized Assessed Value but expected no more than a 20-cent increase in the tax rate.

He says that because the district issued the bonds for Health, Life, Safety improvements the district is abating the bond payments from sales taxes to lessen the burden on property taxpayers.

“We get facility sales tax money from Knox, Mercer, and Warren counties. We generate close to $400,000 a year in that. We’re taking $300,000 of that sales tax money and putting right towards the bond payment. So, we’re alleviating $300,000 of payments so our property taxpayers don’t have to.”

Whitsitt says that shaves around 15 or 16-cents off the bond rate for property taxes.

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