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updated: 11/19/2011 5:29 PM

D214 property tax levy likely to rise 2.4 percent

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Northwest Suburban High School District 214 has begun discussing the tentative 2011 tax levy, which includes an overall increase of 2.4 percent.

The full amount to tentatively be levied is $195.9 million, up from $191.3 million in 2010. Taxes are paid the year after they are levied.

Officials said they need the increase to pay for rising costs of running the district, which educates more than 12,000 students each year.

As taxes go up, some residents are speaking out about the cost.

"It would be better if you reduced (the levy) to the 2007 level of $175 million. You can easily afford to do so," said a Rolling Meadows resident reading a statement prepared by Roland Ley, president of Northwest Taxpayers United.

Northwest Taxpayers United argues that District 214 has enough money in working cash to reduce the levy, but Deb Parenti, associate superintendent for finance and operations, said the group doesn't truly understand the budget and levy process.

Parenti said the tentative levy is essentially an educated guess of how much money the district will need, and if the district doesn't levy enough to use all its taxing authority under the tax cap, it will be penalized every year after because of limits on how much it can increase its levy from the prior year.

Even though the district will be getting a larger dollar amount, the district's equalized assessed value dropped by 8 percent, or $1 billion last year, as did the assessed value of many resident's homes. At the same time, two tax increment financing districts are expiring this year, which means some property tax money currently diverted to economic development will flow to the school district, Parenti said.

Ultimately it will be up to the Cook County assessors office to determine how the levy breaks down for the individual homeowner, Parenti said.

"Yes, the process is complicated, but the legislators made it that way," Parenti said. "The amount we get will still change based on the tax cap"

There will be a public hearing to discuss the proposed levy at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 S. Goebbert Rd in Arlington Heights, and the board will vote to approve the levy that night.

District 214 is the second-largest high school district in the state and serves Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Elk Grove, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling.

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