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updated: 10/9/2012 11:40 PM

Geneva school taxes likely to keep going up

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How much Geneva school district taxpayers' bills will go up will depend on whether or how much the school board decides to increase the annual property tax levy.

Donna Oberg, assistant superintendent for business services, presented three options to the board's finance committee Tuesday. In one, the district would ask for exactly the same amount of money as it received this year for the education, operations/maintenance, transportation, municipal retirement and Social Security funds.

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In the second, it would increase that part of the levy by 3 percent, the maximum allowed this year under the state's property tax-cap law. That percentage is equal to the year-over-year increase in inflation according to the Consumer Price Index, set in December 2011.

In the third, it would increase that part 1.5 percent.

But in all three scenarios, the taxes levied to repay the district's debt would rise. Those levies are not subject to the tax cap, and the district owes more and more money every year on the debt. The district will be paying off that debt through 2027; its payments, now at about $14 million this year, are expected to rise to $22 million by 2017, Oberg said.

With the full CPI increase, the 2012 levy to be collected next year could be as high as $80.96 million, 6.32 percent higher than the previous levy. It includes $17.3 million to pay debt. The bill on a house valued last year and this year at $288,000 could go up $543, according to Oberg.

With a partial CPI increase, the levy could be $80.04 million, a 5.1 percent increase. The homeowner would pay $474 more.

And with no increase in the operating-expense levies, the overall levy could be $78.58 million, 3.18 percent higher than the previous year. The bill on that house would increase $405.

The finance committee made no recommendation Tuesday, and plans to discuss the topic again at an undetermined date after Oct. 22 but before Oberg presents the proposed levy to the school board Nov. 9. On Oct. 22, the board will hear from a consultant about the status of the district's debt and what it could do to reduce the cost, possibly by refinancing some to a lower interest rate.

Earlier this year, the district abated $3.2 million of its debt levy, including using part of its education fund reserve to pay debt.

The board must file its tax levy request with the Kane County clerk by Dec. 24. However, the county clerk will not release the exact equalized assessed valuation of the property in the district until March, so tax rates won't be calculated until April.

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