CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board seemed to reach a compromise Tuesday night – one that might lessen a proposed tax levy increase.
But just how much of a drop from what was proposed, and tentatively approved, in October is unclear. The new projections will be presented Nov. 21 at the board’s next regular meeting, where a final vote on the levy could take place.
Each member of the board was present and participated during a Tuesday night meeting of the Budget, Planning, Finance and Audit Committee.
The discussion was the first public meeting on the topic since Oct. 17, when the board voted, 4-2, in favor of a tentative 2.4 percent tax levy increase over the previous year.
The board, however, also asked that District 155 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis explore abatement options as a way to minimize the tax levy increase.
Before getting into specifics Tuesday, Davis pointed out that District 155 is one of only two districts among McHenry County’s 22 to both reduce its tax extension and tax rate in each of the past two years.
Davis’ projection at the October meeting estimated that with the proposed increase, the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more in property taxes over the previous year.
On Tuesday, Davis highlighted a couple abatement scenarios. The first, a $500,000 abatement, would knock off about $16.50 from that $50 increase, while the second, a $1 million abatement, would knock off about $33.
Based on comments made by each member Tuesday, it initially appeared that board members intended to vote the same way next week that they did nearly a month ago, with Rosemary Kurtz and board Vice President Jason Blake still the only two against an increase.
Kurtz and Blake pushed other board members to wait one more year, especially since the board was reorganized four months ago with three new members. Both looked at the estimated
$50 million the district has in cash reserves and said asking for an increased levy with that much cash on hand was too big of a request.
Board member Ron Ludwig differed, and said after seeing the district’s
$50 million worth of maintenance projects that are needed over the next 10 years, an increase is justified for long-term stability. He said, however, that the board seriously would have to consider spending cuts in the near future, as taxpayers have asked for.
But board member Amy Blazier was torn and suggested the board consider abatement. Blake expressed a desire to reach a middle ground and guided the board toward a compromise.
Members settled – for now – on abating $1.2 million in debt obligation. The board directed Davis to come back next week with the estimated taxes homeowners would pay to the district if it were to abate the $1.2 million and dip into cash reserves to pay debt.
Davis said he will come back with levy projections for owners of $200,000, $250,000 and $300,000 homes.