District 300 unveils increased property tax levy

Average homeowner could see $26 hike on next year’s property tax bills

ALGONQUIN – District 300’s tentative $2.9 million increase from last year’s property tax levy will likely cost a typical homeowner in the district $26 more on next year’s property tax bills.

Administrators from the Carpentersville-based school district unveiled the district’s projected property tax levy to board members on Monday. The $173.19 million total levy is tied to inflation and represents a 1.7 percent increase from last year.

An average homeowner will pay roughly $26 more for the increase, after they saw their home values decline from $200,000 in 2012 to $180,000 this year, according to district figures.

But Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin warned the increase is needed to keep services afloat in the face of stagnant revenues from state and federal governments. Property taxes generally are the largest source of funding for school districts in Illinois.

“Without this relatively minor increase from the average homeowner, the district would most likely have to make reductions to its current programs to comply with the [school] board’s fund balance policy,” Harkin said.

The extra $2.9 million in property taxes will help cover losses to district services from the automatic spending cuts that Congress passed earlier this year, while also helping the district rebound from flat state funding in the past, Harkin said.

Under its current budget, the district also plans to pay 10 percent more in health insurance costs.

Harkin stressed that the district has already made budget cuts the last several years. Officials simultaneously had to increase personnel costs to hire more teachers to help lower class sizes, as mandated by the teacher contract negotiated last year.

The district’s projected levy also seizes on new construction. Of the $2.9 million, $1.6 million should come from new property owners, while $1.3 million should come from the district’s existing taxpayers.

The district’s actual levy request presented Monday is overestimated at a 7.3 percent increase, or roughly $30.2 million, totaling $200.49 million.

The ballooned levy allows the district to capture any unforeseen property tax dollars, when the district’s tax rate and assessed values are finalized next spring. But Harkin said the district is not expecting to see such a substantial increase.

“We have overestimated the amount we are requesting to give ourselves flexibility in the final rate setting,” she said.

The board unanimously approved the tentative levy request without debate. Members will vote Dec. 9 to finalize the request, after residents have a chance to discuss it during a public hearing earlier that night.