The Importance of Levies

I received the following email yesterday:

Just saw the attached in the public notices in the paper.  D300 will be discussing a 38.64% increase in property taxes to be levied for 2008.  Is this the lead-in for another referendum?


I can find no further information on the D300 website.

Of course the percentage increase is outrageous.

But you have to remember that most people in charge of tax districts want to make sure they can wring as much money out of us as possible.

No matter that the economy is tanking.

The services public officials think the services they provide–especially for special purpose districts like schools–must be the most important way to spend your money, otherwise why would the officials be spending their time trying to provide them.

OK, I’ll grant some play the role of taxpayer watchdog, but I can’t think of any local governmental entity where such folks are in control.

Having said that, the levy is meaningful in only a limited way. 

It represents the maximum that a tax district can collect.

In the best of circumstances.

In a really big building boom.

Fortunately, there is this little thing called the tax cap.

It is the real limit on spending.

Unless folks are silly enough to approve a tax rate referendum or bond issue, tax districts cannot collect more than they did last year, plus whatever the Consumer Price Index goes up to a maximum of 5%. They can also get all the new money that new construction or a dying Tax Increment Financing district gives up.

Now, school districts say that their costs go up faster than the CPI.

“Oh, well,” is about the only reaction I have to that.

Welcome to the real world where “wants” have to be distinguished from “needs.”

So, why not levy for what one expects to receive?

Why ask for a 38.64% increase when you know there is virtually no new construction and the inflationary increase in limited to 5%, even if inflation is higher than that?

That is the question I would ask next Monday night at 7:30 at Neubert Elementary School at 1100 Huntington Drive in Algonquin.

The notice says that those wanting to testify have to call Cheryl Crates ahead of time.

That, of course, is nonsense.

People don’t have to pre-register for a public hearing.

I wonder how much the irrelevant 7 lines of type cost the taxpayers.

Click to enlarge the public notice.

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District 300 school board member John Ryan has been kind enough to point out my mistake in not figuring out the notice said people “may” contact Cheryl Crates. I saw “must” for some reason.

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