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District 155 asking for less in tax

CRYSTAL LAKE – District 155 school board members backed a $2 million abatement that will ease the local tax burden on property owners.

Under the levy approved late last year, the owners of a $300,000 home would have seen their property-tax bills go up $117. The abatement brings that figure down to a $55 increase, district officials said.

“I think whatever we can do to lessen the tax consequence for taxpayers, we’ve got to do that,” District 155 school board President Ted Wagner said. “The board believes we have sufficient cash to abate this.”

The district will use reserves from its working cash fund to cover the abatement.

The district unanimously approved the measure at a meeting Tuesday. It will abate its bond and interest payments on a referendum approved in the early 1990s to build Prairie Ridge High School. Bond and interest payments this year initially were $5.6 million.

The district has abated these payments for the past three years, for a total of $6.5 million.

The district won’t ask for the full bond payment despite earlier warnings from its finance director not to abate a portion of the payment. Joe Murphy, the district’s director of business and finance, on Tuesday changed his tune, Wagner said, and recommended that the board OK the abatement.

Murphy advised the Finance Committee in November not to seek the abatement this year because there were too many uncertainties, namely contract negotiations with the teachers union, a potential shift of the pension burden to local school districts, and an anticipated decrease in state transportation funding.

District 155 includes Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, and Prairie Ridge high schools. The district serves nearly 7,000 students from Crystal Lake, Cary and Fox River Grove.

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