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District 3 approves tax levy abatement

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 9:07 a.m.CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 10:54 p.m.CDT

FOX RIVER GROVE – School District 3 is giving property taxpayers a little bit of a break.

The school board earlier this week approved a $100,000 tax levy abatement. In December, the district adopted a tax levy of $5.1 million, which included an $85,500 increase over the amount of property taxes it brought in 2013. The district had approved a 1.7 percent increase in the levy, which is the increase in the consumer price index.

Taxing bodies bound by the tax cap law can increase their annual levies by the increase in the CPI or by 5 percent, whichever is lower.

The district now expects to receive about $5,020,000 in property taxes this year, said Superintendent Tim Mahaffy.

Mahaffy has said levying for the full amount of taxes in December but abating them later allows the district to increase its levy in future years without the lost revenue being compounded in subsequent years by limiting the tax rate.

“The board wanted to be responsive to the economic hardship [in] our community,” Mahaffy said.

How the abatement will affect the typical homeowner will depend on where a person’s property value is set. The final tax rate won’t be determined until the spring after property values are finalized.

Mahaffy said the district is abating projected revenue, and the board will consider the abatement process on an annual basis.

“It is really important, we took a long look at it, and the board had a thorough discussion about it,” Mahaffy said.

He added the abatement won’t have an effect on student programming.

“If it starts to affect the quality of programming, we’ll probably put the brakes on it,” Mahaffy said. The district also plans to keep registration fees the same for the seventh consecutive year.

Fees will be $130 for kindergarten through seventh-graders, and $165 for eighth-graders. The extra cost for eighth-graders covers a cap and gown, and part of the costs of a dinner-dance and a field trip to Six Flags Great America, Mahaffy said.

Next year, the district expects to have one less class section in the seventh grade because of dropping enrollment.

With 25 fewer students expected districtwide next year, the district plans to have two sections of fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.

The district currently has two sections for the fifth and sixth grades. The other grades have three sections.

The district does have three teachers planning to retire, and will only replace two of them, Mahaffy said.

Declining enrollments and timely retirements have allowed the district to avoid laying off teachers through a reduction-in-force process.

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