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.


The Importance of Levies — 1 Comment

  1. Cal,
    It is most disappointing that I once again find myself in a position of having to correct yet another inaccurate story regarding District 300. As you are undoubtedly aware considering your long tenure in these matters, based upon current law in Illinois (and silly as it may seem), public entities that rely on property tax revenue must declare their requested levy prior to actual EAV’s being released. Because we have no way of knowing what our actual tax receipts will be, we are put in the unenviable position of having to ask for an amount much higher than needed to ensure we will not fall short of budget expectancies. Had you bothered to check D300’s actual proposed budget for 2009-2010, you would have found we are actually forecasting a slight DECREASE in our tax rate for the next academic year.

    You also asserted that anyone wishing to speak on the matter at the upcoming BOE meeting “MUST” contact Dr. Crates prior to the meeting in order to be allowed to do so. That also is incorrect – if you would have read the notice carefully, you will see it reads “MAY”, and was intended to provide a knowledgeable point of reference in case any questions arise.

    What is most disheartening to me is that, in the correspondence we have shared since the publication of your first post last week, you assured me that you would publish an article featuring my repudiation of the falsehoods contained in that post. You also promised that you would afford me the courtesy of checking with me if anything that seemed unusual regarding D300 caught your attention prior to future publications in order to offer a balanced perspective.

    Imagine my surprise then, when I read your latest post this morning. Although it genuinely pains me to have to say so, because you have chosen to once again rely on misleading information, lack of diligent verification, sensationalism in your inference to a clandestine plan for another referendum and in reneging on your word to me, serious doubts are now raised in regard to both your personal and the McHenry County Blog’s credibility and integrity. Surely, in your tenure as a state and county official, there were times when the press chose “not to let the facts get in the way of a good story”, so to speak, in their portrayal of you. Such actions on your part now, therefore, can be viewed as nothing short of hypocritical.

    For example, where was a story about multi-year budget projections showing balanced budgets for D300 into the future? Where was a story on how D300 saved our taxpayers over $2 million in the recent bond sale because of the unprecedented 5-tier increase in our credit rating due to the fiscal disciplines that have been instituted? Residents of D300 can be assured that BOE campaign pledges and D300 Strategic Plan objectives of transparency and accountability are being fulfilled.
    It certainly is not my intention to engage in an ongoing and escalating war of words with you. I am compelled though, to respond to unprovoked and false accusations – especially in light of our recent discourse. I will put an end to this by simply stating a wish that you remain true to your word I look forward to a balanced perspective in the future.

    John Ryan
    Board Member
    CUSD 300

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