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School tax levy OK'd in 5-2 vote : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
School tax levy OK'd in 5-2 vote
District's tax rate to show increase on next year's bills

by Lyle R. Rolfe


The Oswego School District Board adopted a new annual property tax levy totaling $128,491,418 for the coming year Monday night, an increase of 2.1 percent over the $125,535,566 levy passed by the board last year at this time.

Associate Superintendent Dr. Paul O'Malley estimated the district's tax rate for the coming year at $7.3488 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation (EAV). This anticipated rate is up from last year's rate of $6.6573 per $100 of assessed valuation, and may translate into an increase in the school district portion of the tax bills that property owners will receive next spring.

Individual tax bills are determined by multiplying the total tax rate of all the local governmental agencies by the EAV on each property, minus any available exemption.

Under the new rate of $7.3488, the owner of a home in the school district with a fair market value of $180,000 that does not claim any available exemptions will pay $4,409 in property taxes to the school district next year.

This year, under the school district's current $6.6573 cent tax rate, the owner of a home valued at $180,000 paid $3,994 in property taxes to the school district.

However, that expected tax increase may be at least partially offset by a decrease in assessments on individual homes and other properties in the school district. Earlier this year most property owners in the district received notice that their assessments have been decreased for the coming year.

Tax rates for the school district dating back to 1997 have ranged from a low of $4.7477 per $100 of assessed valuation in the 2003 levy year for the 2004-05 fiscal year to a previous high of $6.6573 in the 2011 levy year for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

O'Malley noted that they are predicting no change in the total EAV of property in the district.

He added in prior years they were able to maintain the property tax rate because they had a large amount of new growth, which served to increase the district's EAV.

O'Malley said the rate is dependent on how property is assessed and where it is located within the district, which occupies all of Oswego and parts of Aurora, Montgomery, Yorkville, Plainfield, Joliet and three counties-Kendall, Kane and Will.

"How someone is assessed in Plainfield, will be different than someone living in Aurora or Oswego," he noted.

Casting "no" votes on the tax levy were board member Greg O'Neil and Ali Swanson.

O'Neil said that "...during that same time when the EAV goes down it negatively affects the tax rate. But, during the time the tax rate was held flat, the EAV was going up by a significant amount. So, taxpayers were still getting higher tax bills in every single year even though the tax rate was not the same. I can prove this by my own tax bills."

He added, "I anticipate that no matter where you live in (the) Oswego (School District), you'll see a higher tax bill."

Swanson did not comment on her reasons for voting no on the levy.

Board President Bill Walsh noted that when the district's bond and interest payments are excluded, the school district does not have the highest tax rate in the area, but the second-highest.

With bond and interest payments included, Oswego is the highest, Walsh acknowledged, adding that issuing bonds for new buildings in recent years was necessary to deal with growth and increasing student enrollments.

O'Malley said next spring when final equalized assessed valuation and new construction figures are known, the clerks' offices in Kendall, Kane and Will counties will determine final tax rates and extensions of the taxes levied within the constraints of the school district's tax rate limitations and the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), more commonly known as "tax caps."

This year's cap is based on 1.7 percent, the Consumer Price Index for the 12 months ending December 2012. The school district funds, except the Bond and Interest Fund, have been subject to the tax cap since 1997.

The tax levy is the main source of revenue for the school district.

The new levy will generate property tax revenues for the district to operate in the last half of 2013 and the first half of 2014.

The levy, which will not include principal and interest payments for outstanding General Obligation bonds or election costs, will be $94.2 million. The 2012 levy, also without bond and election costs, was $92.3 million.

The 2013 levy includes $62.2 million for Educational purposes; $10 million for Operations and Maintenance; $8.2 million for Transportation; $350,000 for the Working Cash fund; $1.4 million for Municipal Retirement; $1.4 million for Social Security; and $10 million for Special Education.

Property taxes to be collected for bond principal and interest but not election costs are estimated to be $34.2 million for 2013 compared to $33.1 million for 2012.

O'Malley said the increase in the levy will come from taxes on new growth or new construction and property reassessments within the district's three counties-Kendall, Kane and Will.

New construction means not just new buildings, but also improvements to existing buildings, O'Malley noted.

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