I didn’t know that writing that a tax levy is designed to make certain that a tax district would get the maximum it could from property taxpayers’ pockets would be such a startling concept.
In his comment on my article yesterday, Carpentersville School District 300 board member John Ryan makes that very point in his first paragraph (his entire comment is published at the bottom of this post to give it more prominence than it would receive as a comment):
“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.”
Overlevying has been part of the property tax process since well before I collected taxes in 1967 as McHenry County Treasurer.
The reason is that people running most tax districts think their role in life requires they extract every dollar from your check book to which they are legally entitled…for the common good, as they define it, of course. They don’t put it that crassly, of course.
In my article yesterday, I tried to put in perspective the black-bordered notice (which you can click below to enlarge) District 300 published which stated that next year the District 300 levy would be 38.64% higher than this year’s.
(The meeting, by the way, is next Monday night at 7:30 at Neubert Elementary School at 1100 Huntington Drive in Algonquin. I would not encourage you to attend unless you are a masochist. At such meetings I have attended, the trustees have sat and listened to anything people say, but haven’t answered any questions. A pretty unsatisfying situation, if you are expecting a dialogue.)
Next, Ryan uses the argument that I have seen consistently used by tax districts since the tax cap went into effect:
“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.”
That sounds good, but it doesn’t mean much.
Since the tax cap, the rate has not been the thing to watch.
In fact, I have a hard time thinking of a condition, except prolonged deflation and voter approval of higher tax rates or bonds, which would result in a higher tax rate.
That’s because the tax rate is a balancing number.
If assessments go up faster than the Consumer Price Index, then the tax rate must go down.
So a falling tax rate is not a reason to praise a tax district.
It’s a function of real estate assessed value having increased more than the Consumer Price Index.
The number to watch is the extension. That is the amount the county clerk tells the county treasurer to collect.
The extension determines the amount of taxes to be pried out of our pockets.
Assuming that a tax district wants to maximize its income from us property taxpayers next year, a district needs to levy enough to make certain that its extension is what it got last year, plus the increase in the Consumer Price Index, which was 4.1% last year.
Below is John Ryan’s blog comment that launched this article. In it he accurately notes that I misread the permissive nature of the request to call Cheryl Crates, if one wanted to attend the hearing. I noted that mistake under yesterday’s article.
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.
More on the Thanksgiving Week comment Ryan refers to above, which I promised I would feature in an article, in a while.