Naperville District 203 certifies tax levy request, seeking state’s 5% CPI max

Picture of District 203 building and the sign.
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Naperville District 203 officials are anticipating using the state’s 5% maximum public schools tax cap law that is tied into the consumer price index for the upcoming property tax levy, based on a plan set in motion at Monday’s (12/20) school board meeting.

After several reviews, the board voted, 6-1, in favor of the 5% levy, based on the state’s CPI ceiling for taxing. District 203 also is seeking an additional 0.99% levy for new construction, bringing the total proposed levy increase to 5.99%.

There have been no changes to the levy proposal since it was first presented in mid-November. The board held a public hearing at its Dec. 19 meeting, and no one spoke for or against it.

State law requires all Illinois taxing authorities to send a certified levy figure, by way of an adopted resolution, to county clerks by the final Tuesday of the calendar year. Further refinements, however, can be made early next year, before tax bills are sent to property owners.

For public school systems such as District 203, gauging how much in property taxes will come in each year fits hand-in-glove into the operating budget.

“Property taxes are the largest source of revenue for most school districts throughout the state of Illinois,” Michael Frances, District 203’s chief financial officer, said in November, when the levy proposal was first presented. “Over 85 percent of our district’s budget comes from local property taxes.”

Balancing taxpayers’ pocketbooks with budget projections

Board members had wide-ranging views on the levy figure during deliberations at the Dec. 19 meeting. 

There was concern about the impact a tax increase could have on property owners with inflation, but a number of board members stated a desire to ensure adequate funds were coming into the district in the years ahead. 

Board member Donna Wandke cast the dissenting vote. She said she would rather District 203 take advantage of a new state law that allowed it not to go with the 5% maximum now and recapture those funds at a later date. 

“We have a tool in place that we could utilize,” Wandke said. “I’d like us to utilize the tools that we’ve fought for and have been put into place. I’m just not going to be able to get behind this.”

Board President Kristin Fitzgerald, however, maintained a different perspective.

“I think it’s really important, looking at that five-year outlook,” Fitzgerald said. “I am concerned, that given salary growth, inflationary pressure with regard to capital projects and looking at items such as energy investments. I want to be sure, as we look at our tax levy, we have what we need. Right now, we’re showing red numbers with every single out year. I would be concerned about lowering the tax levy at this point.”

The taxpayer impact

What will District 203’s proposed 5% baseline levy increase mean to the average Naperville taxpayer? It’s a complicated question, Frances said, and his recent presentations to the board did not include an across-the-board hard-and-fast dollar figure.

“Individual property tax bills may differ,” Frances said in November. “Different assessment changes, and whether an individual property’s assessment changes are less than, or greater than, the average change, districtwide, can cause an average tax bill to be less than or greater than an average increase.”

Speaking in general terms, Frances said the review of year-over-year assessment changes would play an important role in determining how much additional a specific property owner would pay to District 203 in next year’s bills.

“Property values do not rise uniformly across all parcels,” Frances said. “The burden of taxes might shift from property owners with lower increases to those with higher increases.”

Naperville News 17’s Dave Fidlin reports.

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