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Wilmette Beacon: Wilmette Schools Seeking 4.3 Percent Levy Increase

Wilmette Beacon: Wilmette Schools Seeking 4.3 Percent Levy Increase

Wilmette Beacon/D39 Levy Increase: 4.3 percent

 

There is currently debate on tax reform at the national level.

The Wilmette School District 39 School Board discussed taxes, too, at its Monday, Oct. 23 meeting. The board reviewed the tax year 2017 levy estimate at the meeting. This year’s estimated levy has a 4.36 percent increase from last year’s final extension from $51.6 million to $53.9 million. The educational fund has a 1.17 percent increase from last year’s final extension to this year’s estimated extension from $39.5 million to $40 million. The special education fund has a 4.35 percent increase from $296,256 to $309,147.

In addition, the tort fund has a 30.35 percent decrease from $403,490 to $281,047. The operations and maintenance fund has a 23.06 percent increase from $7.9 million to $9.7 million. The transportation fund has a 9.83 percent decrease from $705,198 to $635,843. The Illinois Municipal Retirement and Social Security funds have a 7.76 percent increase from $1.47 million to $1.58 million. The working cash fund has a 20.73 percent decrease from $107,233 to $85,000. The debt service fund has a 4.57 percent increase from $1.2 million to $1.26 million.

The estimated levy is based upon several variables including the Consumer Price Index (CPI), EAV, the value of new construction, the Cook County multiplier and the Limiting Rate calculation. The CPI has been determined to increase 2.1 percent over last year’s final extension. The other variables have yet to be finalized. All assumptions were based on the analysis of historical data, local trends and future projections. The public hearing on the proposed 2017 levy will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Mikaelian Education Center. Adoption of the 2017 levy is slated to be on the agenda the same night. Wilmette residents didn’t wait until the public hearing to voice their opinions, however. Three Wilmette residents voiced their concerns about the estimated 4.36 percent levy increase during the public comment session at the Oct. 23 meeting.

“When you decide as a board to take money from my family in the form of ever-higher property taxes because you might have otherwise lost your chance, for my family and me that money is gone forever,” Betsy Hart said. “I believe you should reconsider taking more money from Wilmette residents just because you can. How about leaving that money in the pockets of the people who earned it? Let Wilmette residents keep more of their money in this levy season when we are being taxed to death at every turn so that this money is not lost to us forever.”

David Ford is also opposed to the levy increase and would like to see more Village-wide communication on the issue.

“It is an outrageous amount of money,” he said. “I for one raise my hand in complete opposition. I think the Village at large should be notified about this because unless I was sent an email this afternoon at 4:30 about coming, I knew nothing about it. I think it’s a terribly important issue that the entire Village should know about and scrub and understand and weigh in on.”

Tom Scanlan was a member of the Save Wilmette Lakefront group, which opposed a pair of 2015 Wilmette Park District referendums that ended up not passing. The rejected referendums would have issued $14.5 million in bonds for Gillson and Langdon Park projects.

“Personally we went door to door to about 2,000 residents in Wilmette,” he said. “When you go to as many houses as we went to, it’s middle class. Are there wealthy residents here? Yes, hundreds. But are there thousands? No. The property taxes was a concern and I know that you are once again considering that.”

Board member Tracy Kearney concurred with the residents who spoke during public comment.

“I moved here in 2002 and my property taxes have increased by 300 percent in 15 years,” she said. “At the same time, the value of my home has decreased. It’s difficult for anyone to understand how our property taxes have gone to these exponential levels and at the same time our property values have not nor has our income. We have not seen market values rise rapidly or even rise in the last 10 years yet we continue to extend our levy to the amounts that we can. I would like to suggest that we consider not extending the levy this year.”