Updated March 13, 4:00 p.m.

The District 91 school board voted Thursday night to abate $539,353 from property tax bills of Forest Parkers this fall. The money will be abated from the tax levy used to pay debt service on district bonds.

“Why are we doing this? We had discussions with the board about limiting our total request [for the tax levy] to the same or less than the prior year,” said Assistant Superintendent Edward Brophy about the one-time abatement.

“The abatement will cause the District 91 portion of the 2012 tax bill not to be as high as it could have been,” he said. Forest Parkers will see results on the second installment of their property tax bills in the fall.

“People won’t get a check, they’ll get an adjusted tax bill,” said Brophy. The abatement will average $45 in savings for every $100,000 in the Equalized Assessed Value of their property, he said.

“This is extremely rare,” said Superintendent Lou Cavallo. “It’s not a common occurrence for a school district to give money back. It speaks highly of the board that they are looking to help taxpayers in these economic times.”

The reason for the abatement is that the district has sufficient funds to service its debt. Instead of levying a proposed $1.3 million in 2012, the district will levy $794,575. Over the past four years, the district’s working cash fund has earned more than a half million dollars in interest, allowing the district to abate its levy for debt service.

Brophy said the district can afford the giveback. He pointed out that the district has been spared “reduction in force” (RIF) budget cuts.

He said the district is in good shape, will be debt free by June 2014 and “won’t need to borrow more.” The $4,825,000 limited school bond to which the abatement will be applied was issued in May 2002.

“We have resources on hand for the immediate future, including sufficient resources to cover our technology improvements,” Brophy said.

Board President Frank Mott said “This shows how diligent we’ve been in spending the funds we have. We haven’t had to ask for a referendum in eight years and we are actually returning money to the taxpayers.”

Taxpayers won’t see anything special on their bills, which may actually rise overall due to other factors such as new property assessments or rate increases by other taxing bodies. But the portion from District 91 will be taxed at a lower rate, said Brophy.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...