Average Naperville School District 203 resident’s tax bill could increase 5%  

Drone shot of a Naperville neighborhood
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Although there are a number of moving pieces in play, the average property tax bill in Naperville School District 203 could increase 5% to 5.5% in year-over-year comparisons, based on a proposal in motion.

District 203 administrators and the board of education had a preliminary discussion of the 2023 levy at a meeting Nov. 13. It was the first of several planned discussions, culminating with a truth in taxation hearing and adoption of a resolution scheduled for the board’s Dec. 18 meeting.

About 85% of District 203’s income is derived from taxes. For this reason, the levy is scrutinized each year since it plays such a large role in the revenue side of the financial ledger.

CPI playing a role in the District 203 levy increase

State law gives District 203 the authority to increase its levy by the rate of the consumer price index, though it is capped at 5%. The past year’s CPI was set at 6.5%, meaning the 5% cap is invoked.

District 203 has other considerations in play as well, including the technicality of abating debt service. If the board chooses to abate debt service, the average tax bill will increase by about 5.5%; if not, the 5% figure will be in place.

During the preliminary discussion on Nov. 13, board member Donna Wandke said she was open to softening the levy increase as inflationary pressures continue to weigh on households.

“As our free and reduced lunch goes up, it is evident that our community, in some aspects, is struggling financially,” Wandke said. “I think we can be more sensitive about that.”

Superintendent Dan Bridges offered input on levy-related decisions and the ramifications short-term decisions could have in the long road ahead.

“Out of respect for our taxpayers — at some point, if we decide to recapture, there’s some potential for levying greater than what the consumer price index says, and greater than inflation,” Bridges said. “It could result in a greater burden.”

District 203 asking for $293.2 million levy

If the board moves forward with the proposal in December, District 203’s certified levy could clock in at $293.2 million. However, this does not mean this will be the ultimate figure used in taxing properties next spring.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Frances said there are two key variables that will determine the final amount: the rate of new construction throughout the district’s boundaries, as well as equalized assessed value figures.

Frances said it is better to overcompensate on the certified levy sent to county clerks, rather than undercompensate.

“Not knowing what those final unknown variables will be, we typically increase the levy slightly, in order to capture any unanticipated increase in new construction,” Frances said. “The board has the ability to reduce the levy after adoption, but cannot add to it.”

Based on the proposal, $197.9 million of the $293.2 million levy would be applied to educational purposes, or core day-to-day classroom instruction. The next largest recipient, special education, would total $40.8 million, while operations and maintenance is a proposed $31.5 million.

Other funds include transportation ($9.9 million), Social Security ($6.3 million), municipal retirement ($4 million), tort immunity ($1.7 million) and working cash ($1.1 million).

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