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Article updated: 12/5/2012 4:45 PM

New deal with District 300 teachers will not cause tax increase

By Tara García Mathewson

Now that the one-day teachers strike in Community Unit District 300 is over, many parents have shifted from worrying about child care for their kids while school is out to worrying that the tentative labor agreement announced Tuesday will mean higher taxes.

Word is, it won't.

Details of the agreement have not been released and are not expected to be made public until after all the members in the teachers union get a chance to see and vote on the contract. That vote could come as early as Sunday with the board of education next in line to give official approval.

Joe Stevens, board member and district spokesman on matters relating to negotiations, told parents and district staff members Tuesday night the board's vote would come "no sooner than Dec. 18."

In the meantime, Stevens said taxpayers should not worry about an increase just because of the agreement.

"Nothing that we did in the teachers' contract can force taxes up unless there's a referendum and we have not sought a referendum," Stevens said.

The district's property tax levy proposal has already been published and the board is expected to vote on it at Monday's meeting.

The levy is for $182.2 million, according to a presentation made to board members in November by Susan Harkin, the district's chief financial officer. The levy represents a significant increase over the $162 million the district collected from 2011 property taxes, but the amount the district will actually receive is much less.

The property tax increase from last year to this year will be capped at about 3 percent -- the cost of inflation. State law prohibits taxing bodies like District 300 from raising taxes any higher.

Harkin told board members in November she expects the district to get $169.3 million, which will include taxes collected from any new properties in the district that were not there last year. The change in tax rate is supposed to be less than 1 percent, according to the presentation.

The board of education will hold a hearing on the tax levy Monday and vote on it during the same meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Westfield Community School in Algonquin.

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