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posted: 12/12/2012 12:01 AM

Grayslake business owners to complain about taxes

Grayslake-area owners get their say on property taxes

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  • Larry Dyer

      Larry Dyer

 
 

Some Grayslake-area business owners concerned about escalating property taxes plan to address the subject again, this time at a Grayslake High School District 127 meeting.

Larry Dyer, president of Platford Commercial Realty in Grayslake, said the school district's property taxes are feeding growing reserves while devouring greater portions of business expenses.

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Dyer said the business community must make its voice heard.

"I guess it's got to start somewhere," he said Tuesday.

The Grayslake-area business representatives plan to attend District 127's tax levy hearing at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Dyer said. It will be at Grayslake Central High School, 400 N. Lake St.

In October, Dyer organized a group to speak about property tax frustrations before the Grayslake Elementary District 46 board. The group received 30 minutes to make a presentation that included an example of a small-business owner contending with higher taxes and being forced to pass on higher costs to clients.

Dyer said districts 46 and 127 accounted for 73 percent of the most recent property tax bills for his business complexes in Grayslake, which is why school finances are an issue.

Some of the business owners are questioning why District 127 is expected to seek more property taxes through its levy next year while the reserve fund balance has grown since 2007, Dyer said. A school district's fund balance is the equivalent of how much money is in an individual's checking or savings account.

Dyer points to the Illinois State Board of Education's school system financial report profile showing District 127's total reserve fund balance was $25.3 million in 2007.

The cash reserve was $41 million in 2011, which is a reason taxpayers deserve a break, Dyer said.

"Some will say I am being far too critical of District 127," he said. "District officials say they will need the money to maintain the high level of education the district produces for our kids. After all, who doesn't want a good education for our kids? I submit they don't need the money, but they continue to take it because they can."

But District 127's associate superintendent for business services, Michael Zelek, said the state education board's documents don't paint an accurate picture of school cash reserves.

Zelek said about half of the $41 million reserve fund balance listed by the state for 2011 includes early tax receipts that were to be used in the following year.

In addition, he said, the school board has designated $8.5 million of the cash reserve to capital improvements for technology infrastructure and expansion of instructional space.

District 127 projects $14 million in reserves on an accrual basis of accounting at the end of 2012-13, Zelek said. He said the district strives to maintain a fund balance that, in part, would allow it to operate on an emergency basis for about four months.

Under what is known as the tax cap, school districts are limited to seeking an increase of 5 percent or the rate of inflation -- the consumer price index -- as determined in December 2011, whichever is lower. While the CPI was at 3 percent, school districts often seek more than the capped amount because it does not apply to new properties added to the tax roll.

Zelek said whatever local tax money District 127 seeks will be done in conjunction with monitoring expenditures and working with state and federal officials to maximize revenue sources.

"The district is very aware that these are difficult times for our community and will continue to engage in cost containment and reductions," he said.

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