Taxing time for Batavia schools, residents
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News July 26, 2012 1:20PM
property values down $3 billion
For 2011 taxes payable in the 2012 tax year, the billable value of homes in Kane County dropped by a median rate of 8.42 percent, according to the Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong.
And, he warned, “it’s going to continue to drop.”
Armstrong said Kane County property lost more than $3 billion in market value between January 2011 and 2012. However, the tax bill for those same homes declined by a median rate of 0.58 percent because tax levies changed at a different rate.
Armstrong said “45.5 percent of Kane County homeowners have bigger tax bills than last year, even though their billable values were lower.”
If property owners believe their assessment is out of line, the first place to call is their township assessor and then the Kane County Board of Review. Visit www.kanecountyassessments.org for information.
— Linda Girardi
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:06AM
So why are property taxes going up when home values are going down around the Fox Valley?
The Batavia Chamber of Commerce this week hosted representatives from local taxing bodies to speak about the reasons property tax bills increased and what they are doing to contain costs.
“I know when the property tax bills came out there was a shock across all of Batavia,” said Kris Monn, Batavia School District assistant superintendent for finance.
Monn said normally his office receives two to three calls about tax bills, but this year he received 25 phone calls and another 25 e-mails.
“This is a hot topic,” he said.
Monn said property taxes make up 80 percent of the school district’s revenue, which has been significant faced with a lagging economy and the state’s failure to pay its bills. He said 75 percent of the district’s income goes to salary and benefits.
In 2007 voters approved a $75 million building referendum to expand the high school with the understanding the district would hold the tax rate stable.
“When the school district passed the referendum, it assumed EAV (equalized assessed valuation) growth and the tax rate would go down and the district would issue bonds,” he said.
“What actually happened was the EAV was lower than the rate of inflation.”
The School Board decided to restructure bonds to maintain the tax rate, while in previous years they simply abated taxes by using reserve funds, Monn said.
In 2010 the district restructured $2.8 million in bonds, increasing the cost by $3.5 million or 21 percent. “It’s not a great long-term solution to restructure debt and pushing it out,” Monn said.
In 2011 the School Board decided that continuing restructuring bonds “was no longer sustainable,” he said.
“We projected in 2011 that due to the large jump in bond taxes, residents could expect a 10 percent increase in taxes,” Monn said.
“Current projections show stable tax bills for the next few years for Batavia schools.”
But Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch asked Monn to address “the elephant in the room.”
“The School Board said a number of years ago it would not increase taxes if voters approved a $75 million building referendum,” Breisch said.
“The question people in this room and in the community have is did the School Board lie to us?”
The School Board said it would hold the tax rate stable until it had an opportunity to have operating referendum and they estimated that to be in 2011, Monn said. But because of the economic downturn, the board then decided it was not the time to seek a referendum.
“Reserves were gone and they decided to let the rate go back up to a natural level,” Monn said.