School District 200 Real Estate Tax Hike May Loom Next Year

From Seneca Township resident Susan Handelsman:

After 14 years of taxation for debt payments, $120 million becomes $160 million debt

Woodstock D200 is expressing ‘concern ‘ about property taxes due to an imminent increase in current debt.

They have 3 choices to forestall some portion of the spiked levy:

1. Refinance debt. This is what their past performance indicates as likely course of action.  Naturally that causes perpetual eternal debt and all the attendent  fees and interest cost.

2. Use reserves. Only a partial solution and one they should do in any case. I assume they will use a modest amount for the sake of appearances. 

3. Cut costs. They have been getting more money from the State for a decade, and spending every penny. They have the same underutilization of facilities, along with overstaffing, as they have had since 2006 when enrollment failed to increase. And I believe they have taken on new cost burdens with Challenger Center and infant care/preschool services. There are costs to cut, but they will not do so.

So what are odds tax bills will increase?

I believe 100% chance, at the next levy cycle.

This is largely due to $50 million in interest on a 2006 $14 million loan coming due over the next few years.

This debt was never a secret, except to taxpayers. 

Interest accruing on CABs (capital appreciation bonds) is not listed in financial statements as debt, nor considered when calculating borrowing limits under Statutory maximum limits.

Now D200 school board will likely follow historical patterns, which are to maximize debt burdens for taxpayers and extrude debt into eternity.

Note how D200 school board has consistently overspent the means of its taxed community over the past 14 years, without regard for taxpayers’ abilities to afford the relentless increases. 

Note also that enrollment is virtually flat during this period of time, and our property values lower than 14 years ago, while spending and hiring exploded.

Note that in 2006, D200 had  $120 million of debt. 

In 2020, there is now over $160 million of debt. 

In 2006, enrollment was 6201. 

In 2019 (latest available) enrollment was 6374 (up 2.8%).

2006 tax levy was $37 million 2019 tax levy was $57 million (up 54%).

2006 Taxable property value (EAV) was $878 million.

2019 EAV $844 million  (down 3.9% from 2006).

Taxing a higher levy on lower property values causes higher property tax rates: 2006 D200 school property tax rate 4.5% of EAV.

2019 school property tax rate 6.7% of EAV (up 49%).

D200 Spending rose far in excess of inflation during this period:

2006-2019 enrollment 6201 -6374, up 2.8%.

2006-2019 cumulative inflation  31%.

2006 expenditures $60 million.

2019 expenditures $125 million (up 108%).

2006 Cost per pupil $9,675.

2019 Cost per pupil $19,592 (up 103%).

2006 total employees 797.

2019 total employees  “over 1100” (up 38%).

2006 (different data reported) FTE teachers 351.

2019 teaching staff 423 FTE 938.

2006 pupil-teacher ratio  17.7.

2019 pupil-teacher ratio 15.06.

Woodstock D200 refinanced debt ($120 million as of 2006) many times in the past 14 years and topped it off in the process.

And here we are with lower property values and debt far higher despite 14 years of tax levies to ‘pay down’ debt.

Now the board  is said to consider cutting spending. 

This report mentioned in a recent Woodstock Independent article, about administrators recommending how staff can be cut, sounds like the Facility Review Committee of 2017.

The committee was formed to recommend whether several school buildings being operated severely below capacity might be consolidated to save taxpayers money.

The committee was made up primarily of members collecting remuneration in one form or another from D200.

Yet, a majority recommended Clay Academy be closed and students moved into another half empty building. 

But a super majority vote was needed, so Clay Academy stands.

(It is worth noting that Clay Academy operates with over  80% out-of-district enrollment, serving to provide discounted services to other taxpayers’ students at Woodstock taxpayers’ expense. Woodstock taxpayers are burdened with 100% of the cost of keeping the building up to code, and bear the burden of ALL OPEBs for Clay Academy staff. These extra costs are incurred by Woodstock taxpayers for benefit of the taxpayers from other  districts sending roughly 60 out of 75 students here. Woodstock taxpayers’ burden to benefit these other taxing districts is several hundred thousand dollars a year.)

Next, the Facility Review Committee recommended Dean St,. School to be closed, voting passed by a supermajority.

Dean St. School did not close.

Finally, no discussion or voting  was allowed on the topic of consolidation of the two half-empty high schools.

Woodstock District 200’s North High School.

This was after data was requested as to cost savings, data was submitted indicating millions per year in taxpayer savings.

Quickly a sub-committee voted to bar any discussion of consolidation of the 2 high school’s sports teams, effectively ending any high school consolidation talks at all.

The savings on simply consolidating the football programs would have been  half a  million annually, which would have meant  annual savings of  roughly $42 per $200,000 home.

So, there appears to be an extremely low likelihood that this school administration or school board will find any costs to cut or headcount they are willing to reduce.

To recap, in the period since the 2006 bonded debt instruments which are causing this new crisis were issued:

Enrollment is up by 163 students (2.8%).

Spending per pupil  is up by $9,917 (103%).

Tax levy is up by $20 million (54%).

Total jobs at D200 are up by more than 303 (38%).

Our home and property values have fallen by 3.8%.

(All data asserted herein can be found in Woodstock D200 CAFRs found on their website, or the Official Statement of the 2006 Capital Appreciation Bonds posted at ) 


School District 200 Real Estate Tax Hike May Loom Next Year — 5 Comments

  1. Susan H you always do a good breakdown of D200 and Woodstock.

    I see options here.

    1st other school districts or the state need to kick in to operate Clay Academy.

    2nd Cut some teachers and Assistant Principles.

    3rd get rid of the dinosaur Dean St. People will get over it in 2 yrs.

    4th is another different option to take Hebron and consolidate it with Woodstock.

    Hebron is struggling and the voters do not want a new school.

    They would get a more broad education with the Junior High and High School classes and this would help fill up the 2 high schools in Woodstock.

    One thing you did forget about the taxes in Woodstock is the TIF and how those are going to incrementally increase all of Woodstock taxes especially over the next 15 yrs.

  2. How about charging the illegal Mexican for their children who are unjustly enriched at the taxpayers expense.

    Anyone who violated immigration law shouldn’t be rewarded with having birthright citizenship for their children!

  3. I am glad we moved!!!!
    As if taxes in Woodstock aren’t high enough to begin with.

  4. Our loser teachers must be worshipped and showered with even more pelf.

    But they don’t work!!!!

  5. Woodstock TIF 2 will add significant additional cost burdens for D200 taxpayers.

    For one example, the Lohmeyer Insurance Building was given roughly $1 million of taxpayer funding to convert a commercial zoned property into a residential development.

    7 students, at $9250 per student tax levy, will cost taxpayers $65,000 annually the first year.
    Of course the costs per pupil historically rise with inflation (see article for 2006-2019 comparison).

    TIF legal lifespan is 35 years.

    If taxpayers can coordinate an effort to convince Springfield politicians at year 23 to NOT grant a 12 year extension to their brother municipal politicians, TIF will end around 2041.

    Until then, or more likely 2053, Woodstock taxpayers will be on yhe hook for almost all of the costs of new TIF freerider enrollment will be a new burden of D200 taxpayers.

    (By the way, that $1 million gift to Lohmeyer project will never be recaptured. By the time taxing bodies such as schools are allowed to share in its incremental property taxes, the present value “invested” by taxpayers will far outstrip the projected property tax revenues.)

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