Crystal Lake School District 47 proposing property tax levy increase

Taxpayers might see slight decrease in tax rate

Snow covered swings sit idle at the Husmann elementary school playground in Crystal Lake.
Snow covered swings sit idle at the Husmann elementary school playground in Crystal Lake.

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 Board approved a tentative property tax levy that asks for more than the previous year.

It’s not the only Crystal Lake-based school district to ask for an increase.

The Community High School District 155 Board approved a $75,795,782 tax levy request Tuesday with a $1.2 million debt service abatement that drops the actual levy request to $74,595,782. The board action amounts to about a 0.79 percent increase in the levy over the previous year.

A packed crowd Tuesday night was on the brink of booing the board, with a couple of people in attendance saying “shame on you” to board members as they left the meeting.

On Monday, the Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 Board approved its tentative tax levy.

With a 7-0 vote, the board approved a tentative levy of $76,122,326. The amount represents an estimated 4.12 percent increase over the 2016 tax levy, according to the district.

In each of the past two years, District 47 chose to abate $1 million from its levy and instead use cash reserves to make some debt payments.

A $1 million abatement is being proposed again this year, and, if approved, would reduce the total amount of the tax levy.

Although the total levy could rise, residents are projected to see – on average – a 6-cent tax rate decrease per $100 of assessed value, according to the district. The district estimates taxing on $8 million worth of new property that came into district boundaries in 2017.

Although District 155 has $50 million in capital projects scheduled over the next eight to 10 years and the four members who voted in favor of a tax levy increase made that known, District 47 is in similar territory.

District 47 intends to use the property tax revenue, along with fund balances, to help offset $48.1 million in project costs associated with a five-year capital improvement plan.

“Major projects that span the district’s 12 schools include repairing or replacing structural elements, such as roofs, doors and windows, as well as upgrading electrical, plumbing and [heating, ventilating and air-conditioning] systems,” District 47 said in a news release.

The numbers are according to the District 47 10-year life-safety survey, which periodically assesses the health of the district’s buildings.

The district is pegged for $5,489,000 in high-priority work this year and $21,341,000 in “necessary, but not immediate” work that is targeted for completion in 2019.

“Truthfully, we’re looking to capture the consumer price index increase,” District 47 Assistant Superintendent of Business Cathy Nelson said.

Several residents at the District 155 meeting admitted that they were unaware of District 47’s proposal that was detailed the night before. It was brought up Tuesday by District 155 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis, who said, “The focus is on us.”

McHenry County’s levy decrease became a bit of a sidebar during Tuesday’s District 155 meeting. Many pointed to the County Board as an example of what can be done when revenues are declining.

McHenry County Board member Michael Walkup, R-Crystal Lake, announced that the County Board is trying to get a resolution on the March ballot that asks all school districts in McHenry County to lower their property tax levies 10 percent by 2020.

The District 47 board is expected to vote on the proposed tax levy and abatement at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the CORE Center, 300 Commerce Drive, Crystal Lake.

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