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D300 board passes levy increase before large crowd

Updated: January 12, 2013 6:16AM

ALGONQUIN — The tax levy increase passed Monday night by the Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education has nothing to do with paying for the three-year teachers contract to which both the teachers union and board tentatively agreed last week after a one-day teachers strike.

It’s something that happens every year in the Carpentersville-area school district, as well as many other area districts like Elgin School District U46 and Elgin Community College District 509.

But, District 300 CFO Susan Harkin said, “What we’ve been dealing with in the district just highlighted the public sentiment toward property taxes.”

A capacity crowd of about 130 packed out the professional development center Monday at Westfield Community School for the public hearing about that tax levy, applauding as a handful spoke out against the increase.

“I’d like the board to remember the private citizens of the state of Illinois pay for the public unions. Essentially, the public unions are working for the private citizens,” said Joe Dobbelaere of Algonquin.

“When the private citizens endure hard times, I don’t think it’s fair at all the private citizen has to work harder and more hours per week and less vacation, has to pay more for public citizens and public employees.”

And, Bob Crawford of West Dundee said he’d come to his first school board meeting because he “got an email about taxes, more money coming out of my pocket.”

The school board voted to approve a $182 million tax levy. Only board member Karen Roeckner voted against the levy. Board member Joe Stevens was absent.

That amount is a 12.42 percent increase over the previous year, when the Carpentersville-based district actually had collected about $163 million, according to a presentation by Harkin at the start of the hearing.

That’s because tax caps in Chicago’s collar counties scale back any property tax increase to whichever is lower: 5 percent or the rate of inflation, which is about 3 percent this year. That keeps property taxes from increasing too rapidly when property values do.

But, Harkin said, “It’s that Catch-22 that when property values are going down, it isn’t to the advantage of the taxpayer, but when it’s going up, we have to make sure the taxpayers are not paying more than what would be the normal and reoccurring amount.”

Harkin said she knows some districts have chosen to keep their levies stable to offer relief to their taxpayers.

On average, taxpayers in D300 will pay about 3 percent more on their property taxes, depending on the equalized assessed valuation of their homes this year. That’s about an additional $144 on a home valued at $200,000 last year, Harkin said.

The U46 Board of Education passed its 9-percent tax levy increase earlier this month, and Elgin Community College trustees are set to vote on a 3-percent increase Tuesday night.

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