If district estimates for the amount of construction last year are on target, D230 could bring in an additional $3 million in property tax revenue, which could replace the $2 million to $3 million they expect they could lose in state money.
At its meeting Thursday, the high school district proposed increasing its tax levy by 3.2 percent. That includes 2.7 percent based on the Consumer Price Index set, plus the 0.5 percent the district estimates new construction will add to tax bills.
If the district's estimate of $30 million in new construction within the district's boundaries next year is on the mark, this will add about $3 million to the district's tax revenues, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Steve Langert.
"We need to keep our property tax levy as strong as possible, as healthy as possible," he said.
Part of the reason for that is to replace possible lost funds from the cash-strapped state looking to staunch its bleeding. The district could see $2 million to $3 million less from the state next year, Langert said.
Langert said the district's portion of the tax bill on a home valued at $325,000 to $350,000 is currently about $1,400.
This means a 3.2 percent rise would add about $45 to that bill.
Board member Carol Baker voted against the move, saying a 3.2 percent increase would be too much to put on taxpayers, many of whom saw their bills jump this year due to assessment changes.
"It's amazing the number of times you don't hear from the public when you think you will," she said. "And then the tax bills come out."
But the amount a district asks for doesn't set how much it gets.
Last year, expecting $75 million in new construction, the district asked for a 1.4 percent increase. While that construction estimate was in keeping with the historic numbers, the district underestimated the scope of the economic crisis.
During that time there was only about $40 million of construction, meaning the proposed 1.4 percent increase turned out to be a 0.7 percent increase when the numbers were crunched.
Districts often ask for more money than they're due – Darien School District 61 recently asked for a 10 percent increase even though it only expects to get a 2.76 percent increase.
That's because levying is a guessing game. Districts have to estimate how much money to ask for based on tax bills that aren't figured yet and construction that hasn't happened.
If a district guesses too low, the students don't get all the money that's legally theirs. If a district guesses too high, nothing happens. They get the exact amount they're due, not a penny more or less.. That's why districts often skew high in their levying.
"The levy is not a bad thing," board member Frank Grabowski said. "It gives us options."
However, Langert said the district isn't betting high in this case. The $30 million estimate, buoyed by , is a reasonable estimate, he said.
The board will adopt a final tax levy for 2010 at its Dec. 16 meeting.