CHICAGO -- Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Ted Kimbrough has proposed raising property taxes to help offset a $185.5 million shortfall expected for fiscal 1993, which begins Sept.1.
The Chicago Board of Education's three-year financial projection, released last week, estimated a budget of $2.39 billion in resources and $2.58 billion in expenditures.
The deficit means that program cuts, increased revenues, or both will be needed to comply with state law mandating a balanced budget, according to Charley Gillispie, chief financial officer for the city's public schools system.
Release of the estimates spurred Mr. Kimbrough to call for higher property taxes last week. The board's financial projection estimated that Chicago public schools could receive $34 million more a year from a 10 cent per $100 assessed valuation property tax increase.
Mr. Kimbrough "always said he does not want a property tax" increase, said David Rudd, a spokesman for the school board. "But we need something from somewhere. It's a last resort for the system at this point."
Michael Brooks, senior municipal credit analyst at Sandord C. Bernstein & Co., will address a luncheon meeting of the Municipal Analysts Group of New York on June 12 in Manhattan, according to an announcement from Thomas J. Swartz 3d, the group's chairman.
Mr. Brooks will deliver a speech entitled, "Is New York Out of the Woods?" the announcement says, adding that "given the city's recently improved finances and trading values, [the] speech will be particularly timely."
The luncheon, which will be held at the Downtown Athletic Club at 19 West Street, will cost $25 for group members and $30 for nonmembers. To attend, call 212-612-4006 by noon June 11.
Mr. Rudd said the call for a property tax increase is an "acknowledgment" that the system is in crisis. He said that unions, vendors, and taxpayers must realize that the schools need their support to survive.
The board's current property tax rates are at their limit. That means they cannot be raised without passage of a state law giving permission, and the Illinois General Assembly ends its current session June 30.
Mayor Richard M. Daley favors raising income taxes rather than property taxes. He believes higher levies on property would drive away businesses and residents, according to Billy Davis, the mayor's assistant press secretary.
Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois dismissed the possibility of either higher income taxes or property taxes to help Chicago schools.
"Basically, [Gov. Edgar] feels that they [Chicago schools] have to tighten their belts like government at all levels have had to do," said Mike Lawrence, the governor's press secretary.
Mr. Lawrence added that the governor's fiscal 1993 budget includes a $30 million increase in funding for education statewide. He said Chicago schools will receive between 20% and 30% of those funds.
Mr. Gillispie added that schools could realize a $77 million savings if the teachers union agrees to concessions. Other budget cuts, such as the elimination of some programs or the privatization of some board functions, could save the schools another $25 million, Mr. Gillispie said.
The $185.5 million shortfall projected for fiscal 1993 is less than the $447 million predicted last year by the school board. Mr. Gillispie said the current projection was lower due to changes in assumptions about teachers' salaries and revenues.
The current year budget was balanced by, among other things, real-locating state funds to support basic services, using unspent desegregation funds from fiscal year 1991, and cutting various programs and services.
The board has $48.4 million of outstanding general obligation debt, rated BBB with a negative outlook by Standard & Poor's Corp. and Baa by Moody's Investors Service.
"We're holding off on action, figuring they will be able to fill the gap," said Todd Whitestone, a managing director at Standard & Poor's. "We're counting on them to cut something or get added revenues to keep [the budget] in balance."
Moody's was also waiting to see how the board handles the deficit, according to Paul Devine, a vice president and manager of the agency's Great Lakes region.
The board also is obligated to make lease payments on $427.5 million of outstanding revenue bonds issued on its behalf by the Chicago Public Building Commission, which began a five-year building program last year. That debt is insured, except for about $17 million, which carries the same ratings as the board's general obligation debt.