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District 204 board to vote on property tax levy for schools

Updated: January 7, 2014 6:25AM

Indian Prairie School District 204 is holding a hearing next week to give members of the public a chance to comment on the $268.5 million levy request that school board members tentatively approved last month.

The public hearing will be held at the start of the Dec. 9 school board meeting at 7:05 p.m. at the Crouse Education Center in Aurora.

In early November, school board members voted unanimously to approve a tentative levy for 2013 of $268.5 million. Of that, $240.4 million would go toward operating expenses, such as instruction costs, staff salaries and transportation, while $28.1 million will go toward reducing bond and interest debt.

That’s up 2.8 percent from what the district extended in 2012. That year the district was approved to collect $261.1 million. Of that, $233.1 million went toward operating expenses and $28.0 million went toward bond and interest debt. The district projects that for 2013 it will be approved to collect $267.1 million.

According to financial documents prepared by the district, cost increases include about $5.5 million more in educational staff salaries and benefits and an added $1.6 million to the transportation contract.

Jay Strang, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, said the average homeowner can expect to see tax bills for District 204 go up about 1.7 percent, which is this year’s Consumer Price Index, or CPI. That rate is used by about 70 percent of Illinois school districts to help set limits on property tax increases, Strang said.

“Without this increase the district will be looking at a deficit budget for 2015 and we would need to have to cut programs and go back to austerity measures,” Strang previously told the board.

School board member Mark Rising said there is a public “misconception out there that we can ask for whatever we want and we get it.” He added that in recent years, low CPI, falling assessed home values and little new construction in the district has restricted how much the district can collect.

“We are a capped district,” Rising said. “We can only ask for so much.”

Strang said there are two trends that could help the district in coming years: total equalized assessed value, or EAV, in the district is falling at a slower rate that in recent years and there is more new development being built, which will bring in more tax dollars, he said.

Residents who want to speak at the hearing can contact Strang at 630-375-3070.

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