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Ticknor: Talking taxes in District 210

Community voice

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 6:00 a.m. CDT
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Mary Ticknor

Earlier this week, Lemont High School District 210’s Board of Education approved the district’s annual tax levy. The request was a nine percent increase over the amount the district received from last year’s tax extension.

The amount District 210 will receive in property tax revenue will not increase by nine percent. District 210 is restricted in its ability to collect tax revenues by the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law – more commonly referred to as the "tax cap."

This term can be misleading, as the law does not cap an individual’s property tax bill. It allows a taxing body to receive a limited increase in tax extensions on existing property. That limit is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or five percent, whichever is less.

For the 2013 levy, District 210 will receive a 1.7 percent increase on the amount of property taxes most recently collected from existing properties within its boundaries. The district has levied above the 1.7 percent CPI in order to fully capture property tax revenue from any new residential or commercial property that is added on its tax rolls.

Individual tax bills are determined by several variables, ranging from the levy requests of taxing bodies to each property’s Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) – an amount determined by the county assessor’s office.

If a property value decreases from one year to the next, its corresponding tax bill does not necessarily decrease. For instance, many DuPage County taxpayers saw a larger increase in the amounts paid to District 210 on their 2012 tax bills, even though many of them saw their property values decline from the previous year.

As a result of actions taken by the Cook County Assessor’s Office, District 210's EAV – i.e., the total value of property – within Cook County dropped by 16 percent, or approximately $160 million, from 2011 to 2012. In DuPage County, the EAV dropped a little less than six percent.

Individual tax bills in DuPage County were greatly affected by this shift in values. Cook County is responsible for more than three quarters of District 210’s total property value, and its EAV dropped at a rate nearly three times greater than that in DuPage County.

As a result, our DuPage County taxpayers ended up with an additional $661,000 on top of their $5.1 million extension. The increase they saw in their most recent tax bills is not a result of the district asking for a significantly larger amount of money.

Our Board of Education and administration understand the financial decisions they make affect every resident who lives within the district’s boundaries, and they are committed to being good stewards of taxpayer contributions.

Mary Ticknor is the superintendent of Lemont High School District 210

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