Cary Grade School Board President cogitates on what tax districts having to pass a referendum before raising their tax levies would look like:
It’s interesting to extrapolate what things would look like after several years of freezes.
I think most taxing bodies (i.e. Villages, Counties, Park districts, Libraries, etc.) can modify their spending to live in an environment of no levy growth.
However, given that school districts are the most reliant on property taxes to fund operations (usually 75+%), I think you’ll see deficits almost immediately in many districts.
School boards are reluctant to implement operating expense reductions to match revenues combined with long-term labor contracts which carry guaranteed salary increases over 3% and most districts will quickly find themselves with an unsustainable financial structure.
If the legislature further compounds the problem by passing legislation to modify school funding resulting in a re-distribution of funding away from suburban districts and into Chicago and downstate districts, you’ll find very few districts able to keep their head above water.
And finally, if the legislature pushes more cost onto the districts to prop up the massively unfunded pension funds, you would be hard-pressed to find anybody that wouldn’t be running in the red.
Its not hard to envisage a scenario 4-5 years from now when a voter looks at their ballot and finds 7-10 referenda for their consideration from each taxing body, each asking for a tax increase.
(The County wants 3%, the school district wants 4%, the village wants 2%, Park district wants 5% … etc.)
How is the average voter supposed to effectively evaluate the merits of each request and vote appropriately?