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Article updated: 12/13/2012 11:51 PM

Dist. 211 approves 3 percent increase in tax levy

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Despite hearing comments from more than a dozen disgruntled taxpayers, the Palatine-Schaumburg District 211 board unanimously approved a 3 percent increase in the tax levy Thursday.

The total levy, including the debt service, is $209.4 million, which is an increase of $6.1 million over the 2011 total levy extension.

The proposed levy increase approved by the board last month was even higher, at 3.5 percent.

But that amount was reduced because of an announcement last week that the new property valuation from the Olde Schaumburg Centre tax increment financing district, which is set to expire Dec. 31, will not be accessible until 2013.

As a result, the new levy amount is $745,800 less than originally proposed.

The more than 35 people who attended the meeting -- some holding red signs that said "Do not raise our taxes!" -- were still not pleased. During a public hearing, there were demands for the board to cut spending and to consider how much people in the community are suffering financially.

Nick Fatouros of Schaumburg said the board's decision to max out the levy ignored "the human element."

"I am pro-education, but I want to see my tax dollars spent the right way, and the board wastes a lot of it," he said.

Bryan Neal of Rolling Meadows said he recognizes the reasons the district maxed out the levy, but he thinks it would mean a lot to taxpayers if it didn't ask for so much.

"In the future if this district needs money, I think the community will give it, but at this point in time maybe it's time for the school board to give back to the community, given the state of the economy," he said.

Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine noted that property taxes are the biggest complaint among his constituents.

"Lest you think this group is just a vocal minority, I just wanted to assure you it is not," he said of the people in attendance. "Obviously emotions are very high. These are very, very difficult times for people."

After the public hearing, Superintendent Nancy Robb noted that the district made $6.5 million in cuts in 2005 and $4 million in reductions in 2010, all of which have been maintained in the years that followed. In this past year, an extra $1 million in reductions were put in place, she added.

"We're constantly looking at ways we can be efficient and yet maintain the programs that we have," she said.

David Torres, associate superintendent for business, explained that one of the reasons the district needs to increase the levy by 3 percent is due to businesses finding success in appealing their property taxes, which in turn means they need to be refunded hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We're losing 2 to 3 percent of our levy in refunds on an annual basis," he said.

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