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Downers Grove

Taxes to go up in District 99

DOWNERS GROVE – The District 99 Board of Education voted 5-1 Monday to seek a 2.3 percent property tax increase for 2013, though that figure could decrease to 2.1 percent this spring when the equalized assessed valuation of property in the district and value of new construction is released.

"Accordingly, we use historical information to produce an estimated request and then adjust it downward before the actual tax bills are computed and issued next year," District 99 Controller Mark Staehlin said in his tax levy memo to the school board.

Board member Keith Matune was the lone "no" vote. Board President Nancy Kupka was absent.

Board members Julia Beckman, Deb Boyle, Terry Pavesich and Rick Pavinato voted in favor.

Of the 2.3 percent requested levy increase, about 1.7 percent will come from existing properties. For the owner of a $300,000 home, that would add about $29.73 to their tax bill.

The rest of the increase will come from new construction. The state caps school districts' levy increases by the prior year's consumer price index, or 5 percent, whichever is lower, plus any new construction. CPI is essentially the inflation rate. Last year it was 1.7 percent.

A 2.3 percent increase would result in a $70.9 million levy, and a 2.1 percent increase would result in a $70.6 million levy, according to Staehlin's figures.

Before voting against the levy, Matune said the approximate $30 increase for a typical homeowner doesn't sound like much, but if every taxing body increased their levy by that amount, it becomes a large burden, collectively. He added that he doesn't think the budget shows a demonstrated need for more property taxes.

"Which leads me to conclude that, just because we can, doesn't mean we should [raise the levy]," he said. "We're still experiencing very tough economic times in which our friends and neighbors continue to endure the loss of jobs and home forclosures."

Beckman said she understood Matune's reservations, but said the levy increase is needed to meet expectations moving forward.

"I believe we just have to have a cushion to accommodate all the things we need to do to satisfy federal and state mandates," she said. "And there are so many costs that we have no control over. I just think we need this little cushion."

Staehlin also responded to Matune and said property taxes would likely be the only growth in revenues for the district, and expects further cuts in the amount of funding from the state.

Because the request is below 5 percent, the district does not have to conduct a public hearing or publish the proposed levy in a newspaper.

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