D-300 raises levy by $20M

CARPENTERSVILLE – The average District 300 property owner can expect an increase in property taxes next year, but district officials said it isn’t because of the pending three-year contract with teachers.

Rather, the $20 million increase to the district’s property tax levy is tied to declining state funding, increasing government mandates and rising student enrollment, district spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said.

“The board members are all residents of the district, and they understand the challenge of taxes rising,” Strupeck said. “The board members cut more than $14 million from the district’s operating budget in recent years because they are committed to making local tax dollars stretch as far as possible while still providing a quality school system.”

The shorthanded board approved the levy this week, with member Karen Roeckner casting the lone “no” vote. Member Joe Stevens was absent.

The $182 million levy request is ballooned to capture revenue from any construction that may occur during the year. Officials anticipate taxes will yield $169 million because home values are projected to decline 8 percent.

It’s projected that the owner of a home assessed last year at $200,000 will pay the school district about $144 more in property taxes next year.

At the D-300 board meeting, district residents Bob Crawford and Joe Dobbelaere cited public unions and a need to ratchet back benefit increases, the same as private-sector employees have endured in the economic downturn.

“When the private citizens endure hard times, I don’t feel it’s fair at all that the private citizen whose income is going down and has to work harder and more hours per week with less vacation, has to pay more for public citizens and public employees,” Dobbelaere said in a recording of the meeting.

District officials said the levy increase is not tied directly to a tentative deal the board and its teachers union reached last week. Neither side is disclosing the details of the deal until it is ratified. Both sides are expected to vote on it next week.

Strupeck said the board has no plans “to seek revenue beyond the normal, annual levy process.”

That means the district likely will not seek a referendum asking residents to raise property taxes above what is permitted under Illinois’ tax cap law.