Early calculations indicate Elmhurst Unit District 205 will ask for a total of about $99.7 million from taxpayers next year to fund its operations. That figure represents an increase in the district's annual request for property taxes (its tax levy) of 4.63 percent over last year.
The School Board unanimously approved its tentative levy Tuesday night. The increase is based on a Consumer Price Index of 3 percent, plus an amount for new growth, as allowed under the Illinois Tax Cap.
As always, the district is levying more than it expects to receive in order to capture all potential revenue from new growth, which is not limited under the tax cap. In reality, the total increase will likely be closer to 3.6 percent, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Chris Whelton told the School Board.
"We're levying an additional 1 percent to provide for unknown factors and the possibility of underestimating what new construction will actually be," Whelton said. "We are currently estimating new construction at about $12 million to $16 million."
Whelton presented a chart of past growth from new construction. In 2007, Elmhurst recorded $80.7 million in new growth. As the bottom dropped out of the economy and new home starts halted, new construction EAV plunged each year, hitting $19.3 million in 2010.
There was a spike in new construction EAV—to $54 million—when Elmhurst Memorial Hospital came on the tax rolls in 2011. However, any tax money received from the hospital will have to be returned with interest if the hospital regains its tax-exempt status. Most experts believe that it will. Actual EAV from new growth in 2011, not including the hospital, was $15.1 million.
In addition to new growth, the other unknown is the value of existing properties in town.
"We are estimating a 9 percent decrease in EAV," Whelton said.
The School District does not have a lot of options when it comes to revenue; 84 percent of its operating revenue comes from property taxes, Whelton said.
The district will hold a public hearing on the tax levy Dec. 18, even though a hearing is not required since the proposed levy increase is less than 5 percent. The levy will be filed with DuPage and Cook counties later that week.
In Related News
District 205 School Board also unanimously voted to sell $3 million in fire prevention and safety bonds in order to get school buildings up to code.
The money will go toward replacing the roof, as well as lighting, at the York Aquatic Center; reparing leaks in the York pool; and replacing bleachers in the gymnasiums at Bryan and Churchville middle schools.
The district held a public hearing on the bond sale Tuesday; there were no public comments.
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