Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a plan to pay the salaries of the state’s regional superintendents of schools next year.
While this is good news for the superintendents, who haven’t been paid since June, it’s bad news for local governments, who will be footing that roughly $13 million bill. That means local towns will be starting off the next budget cycle thousands of dollars below where they thought they’d be.
Illinois’ 44 regional school superintendents’ offices were originally eliminated from the state’s 2012 budget, according to this Civic Foundation report. But those superintendents argued that regional offices of education serve an important purpose.
This page on the Kane County Regional Office of Education’s website argues the case: regional superintendents inspect schools, train bus drivers, certify substitute teachers, help educate the homeless, and improve accountability among teachers, supporters of the office say.
The Kane County Regional Superintendent is Douglas Johnson, and his office is in Geneva. The Grundy/Kendall Regional Superintendent is Paul Nordstrom, who maintains offices in Morris and Yorkville. Neither immediately returned calls for comment.
The new law, which Quinn signed on Nov. 17, restores the salaries of those superintendents, but takes the money to pay for them out of the corporate replacement tax, paid from the state to municipalities. This is an income tax on businesses, and has been in place since 1979—it was meant to replace an abolished property tax on corporations.
This arrangement is only in place for one year, and during that time, a state task force will consider whether to keep the Regional Offices of Education.
While the state has not released definitive information about how much of the corporate replacement tax will be withheld, it could very well be all of it, according to Jeff Zoephel, finance director for the village of Montgomery. Zoephel said the village expects to take in about $35,000 from this tax next year. That total was almost $43,000 in fiscal year 2011.
The village of Oswego took in about $9,000 in corporate replacement tax in 2010. And the city of Yorkville may lose about $16,000, according to Finance Director Rob Frederickson—not a huge amount, he said, but not something the city would like to give up.
“We don’t want to lose $16,000 if we don’t have to,” he said. “But it will not have a huge impact on our budget.”
Montgomery, with its comparatively smaller budget and much larger revenue from this tax, may feel the pinch. Village Manager Anne Marie Gaura said the discrepancy between towns could be explained by Montgomery’s large industrial base—the corporate replacement tax is on income, and the village’s industrial companies represent a large work force. (, on its own, has more than 500 employees.)
Gaura said the village—both on its own and as a member of the Metro West Council of Government—opposed this bill, writing letters and making phone calls to legislators. She said the real issue is the precedent it sets.
“The village of Montgomery, as well as other municipalities, are philosophically opposed to municipal revenues being diverted to pay for the state’s financial difficulties,” she said.