District 109 approves tax levy increase
Updated: November 13, 2012 2:48PM
DEERFIELD – District 109’s portion of Deerfield property taxes will be going up next tax year.
The Deerfield Public School District 109 school board voted unanimously Monday night to pass a nearly 5 percent property tax levy increase, which didn’t sit well with one Deerfield resident at the meeting.
“We can’t pay anymore (taxes),” said Marshall Hector, the only member of the public to speak against the proposed levy at Monday’s meeting. “Taxes are being imposed and raised by every governing body who has the opportunity to do so.”
Hector, a 44-year Deerfield resident and former substitute teacher for the district, asked the board to find more business-like solutions to its financial needs.
“We ask that you work hard, cut frills and unnecessary departments,” Hector said. “There really is not much of an option for us (taxpayers) except to come to a meeting like this and ask that you please not raise the tax levy.”
Assistant Superintendent for Finance Operations Greg Himebaugh said that because of threats of reduced funding and the state’s pension crisis, the board decided to levy that maximum legal amount it is allowed by the state, which for this year is 3 percent based on the Consumer Price Index. Another 2 percent was added due to debt services and new property growth in Deerfield.
“One percentage will go to repay bonds, which were issued a number of years ago,” School Board President Ellen London said. “The repayment schedule is at a higher amount for what gets repaid this year. One percent is on new construction, and the last 3 percent is money we rely on to run the school district.”
London said the tax levy was discussed at school board meetings over the summer and despite reaching out for public input, the board didn’t hear much from the community.
An example on the projected impact the levy will have on a homeowner, with a home valued at $510,000, is an increase of $194 on their property tax bill, as listed in the 2012 tax levy documents.
London also said the board is concerned about “a number of unknowns,” including the state’s pension crisis.
“That could be an extra $4 million out of our budget every year, and we can’t pass taxes to pay for that,” London said.
The board also presented online community survey results on proposed building and technology upgrades to each of the district’s six schools, known as the Master Facility Plan, at a proposed price tag of $18 million, which includes air quality improvements, the addition of all-day kindergarten and 21st century upgrades to science labs. The majority of people who took the survey said they were in favor of those three proposals, or what London called “what we would like in a perfect world.”
“There is no money set aside for this,” London said. “Those are all longer-term visions. The community wanted to see us planning ahead. The prices are very early ballpark estimates.”
Himebaugh said a copy of the tax levy can be viewed online at www.dps109.org.