District 87 plans for $45 million tax levy, flat tax rate
The District 87 school board approved a tax levy plan of more than $45 million at Wednesday night’s meeting. The levy provides roughly 60% of the district’s revenue.
Compared to the 2020 extension, the proposed 2021 tax levy reflects a 4.26% increase.
Chief Financial and Facilities Officer Michael Cornale presented the tax levy plan to the board. He explained the property tax priorities included repaying all outstanding debt and projecting the budget for the 2023 fiscal year, among other things.
“So, as we work through the 2021 tax levy, our key focus was to try to keep our property tax rate as low as possible,” said Cornale.
He explained the proposed tax rate assumes an estimated equalized assessed valuation (EAV) rate of 3% growth in District 87 and a tax rate of $5.17 per $100 EAV.
Superintendent Barry Reilly said the EAV growth reflects a positive impact on the local economy.
“Now I'm actually encouraged by the fact that we are seeing an increase of over 2% in the EAV. That's good news. We really haven't had that for a little while. And I think you can look across the community and see some of the things that are happening. Right? That are exciting about businesses, and they don't necessarily even have to be within our district boundaries,” said Reilly.
The district is actually estimating a 2.34% EAV growth, but because that percentage can change, officials are estimating 3% in the case of further growth and to not lose any funds. The EAV cannot be certified until the end of the year, thus resulting in a slight overestimation to account for any potential growth.
If the tax levy is adopted, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay roughly $2,600 to the district.
Reilly said this means the average homeowner can expect to have the District 87 portion of their tax bill remain very similar to what it was last year.
“The good news is the tax rate is expected to remain the same. Therefore, the property owner, assuming that their home value doesn't go up, can expect the same cost relative to the District 87 portion of their tax bill,” said Reilly.
District 87 continues to have the lowest tax rate, $5.17, among area school districts. Other districts include Lexington with the highest in the area, at $5.74, and Unit 5 standing in the middle at $5.65.
“So we're proud to keep that number relatively flat. We've done that for probably the last six years or so. And having a stable tax rate really helps our families and other community members out there,” said Reilly.
A public hearing for the levy is scheduled for the December board meeting.
Also Wednesday, the board approved a bid to upgrade the video surveillance system through a bid from Seico Inc. Cornale advised for a traditional approach instead of the cloud-based solution. He told the board this was the best decision in the long run because of a continuing licensing expense.
“We have a camera system and it’s 20 years old now. We haven’t really put a lot of dollars into it. I’d like to see a camera system again last for 20 years without having to constantly put a lot of dollars into it, be it annual licensing fees of somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 with that IP solution, versus we put the equipment in place, and it continues to work,” Cornale said.
The board also heard from about six community members expressing their concerns over mask and vaccine mandates. They encouraged the board to work with the public and parents and stand against the state mandates.