With the backdrop of McHenry County residents being the 29th highest taxed county in the USA, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 published a “Black Box” ad.
Black Box ads, iniated by an advisory referendum that was part of Governor Jim Thompson’s first re-election campaign, have to be put in a local newspaper when a taxing district is asking for more than 5% more money than it received the year before.
The Crystal Lake Grade School Board is projecting operating cost increases of 4.11% and debt service increases of 36.55%.
Combining the two results in a net increase in the total taxes levied of 5.6%.
Crystal Laker John Peltz looked at the ad and he found a problem:
There was no meeting time.
He called the number listed, but got no return phone call.
So, he sent the following letter:
December 5, 2016
Dear Doctor Kathy Hinz,
After reviewing your recent public “Notice of proposed property tax increase for Crystal lake community school district 47 county of McHenry, state of Illinois” I noticed that there is no time of meeting listed in your notice. I called the phone number listed: 815-459- 6070 at 8:25 AM from my cell phone and spoke for 3 minutes.
I asked about the time and was told someone would get back to me.
No one did.
I now respectfully request that the notice be republished with all the necessary information listed and to have the meeting rescheduled accordingly.
I’m sending this letter to you by certified, return receipt requested, United States Post Office
I’m also sending a copy to the Northwest Herald newspaper; the McHenry County Board, Mr. Ryan Farrell, one of your school board members, the McHenry County States Attorney Patrick Kenneally and other public officials.
I also would like to request that this tax increase be denied.
17% of all homes in McHenry County that were sold in October of 2016, were short sales and bank foreclosures.
The time to stop increasing taxes is over.
People have lost their homes and continue to do so.
You must stop taking more and find ways to cut your spending. McHenry County pays the 29 th highest property taxes in the United States of America.
7405 Manor Road
Crystal Lake, IL. 60014
Subsequently, District 47 posted this:
District 47 2016 Proposed Tax Levy
To ease the financial burden on taxpayers, the District 47 Board approved a tax abatement in 2015 in the amount of $1,000,000 from the District’s debt service levy.
This means that, rather than relying on new taxpayer dollars, District 47 used its operating fund or cash reserves to make debt payments.
The abatement amount was determined to keep the portion of a homeowner’s property taxes attributable to D47 relatively flat in 2016 as compared to the previous year.
At the District 47 Board of Education meeting on November 21, 2016, the Board voted 7-0 to adopt a tentative tax levy.
District 47’s proposed tax levy amount for 2016 represents a 5.6 percent increase over the 2015 tax levy for all funds (including capped funds and debt service) and does not include an abatement.
However, this year, another abatement in the same amount is being proposed and, if approved, would reduce the total amount of the tax levy by the abated amount.
Although not required, the District 47 Board voted to publish a notice of the tax levy and tax levy hearing in the Northwest Herald to provide the public with advance information of the tax levy discussion date, which is detailed below.
Due to formatting restrictions of the notice published and the fact that the Board has not yet approved the current tax levy or an abatement, the currently published public hearing notice does not reflect the taxpayer savings from any potential abatement.
Unfortunately, this creates an “apples-to-oranges” comparison, as the increase shown is for the pre-abatement levy over last year’s post-abatement extension.
If the Board approves the abatement as was discussed during the meeting in November, the net amount requested will be $3,542,926, not $4,542,926 as published.
This equates to an increase in the debt service portion of just under 6.5 percent, not the 36.55 percent shown.
It also drops the increase in the overall request from 5.6 percent to 4.21 percent.
As the overall Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of the District increases at an amount greater than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the tax rate itself will actually decrease.
However, that doesn’t guarantee that a homeowner’s tax bill will decrease.
For instance, if the value of a home increases based upon an updated assessment, the actual tax bill could increase.
On the other hand, if there has been no change in assessed value, the portion of the tax bill attributable to District 47 will most likely decrease.
In this scenario at the current tax rate, the owner of a $200,000 home would see a decrease of approximately $145.
The D47 Board is expected to vote on the proposed tax levy and abatement at the next Board of Education meeting on Monday, December 12, 2016 at 7 p.m.
The meeting will be held at Bernotas Middle School, 170 N. Oak St. in Crystal Lake.
For additional information and Frequently Asked Questions about property taxes and school funding, click here.