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Article posted: 11/15/2013 5:30 AM

Wheaton Warrenville District 200 to seek levy increase

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The average homeowner in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 likely will see a roughly $90 increase in the largest portion of their next real estate tax bill in June.

District 200 officials said Wednesday they will seek a 4.81 percent, or $6 million, property tax levy increase, although they expect the actual increase to be much closer to the consumer price index of 1.7 percent.

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By law, tax levy requests are limited each year to the sum of the consumer price index and the percentage of new construction growth within the district.

School districts routinely request increases larger than the CPI to make sure they are allowed to capture any potential property growth. Traditionally, new construction contributes about 1 percent to the district's coffers each year.

"This levy is going to ask for more than 1.7 percent to capture the new growth that's coming onto the tax rolls," Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Bill Farley said. "It's not what we anticipate getting, it's just to cover the unknown because at this time we don't what our new growth is going to be. We know what the CPI is going to be."

At 4.81 percent, Farley expects 2013's projected levy to be $125.8 million, about $5.8 million more than 2012's. If the district is limited to the 1.7 percent, the district's revenue would be reduced to about $122 million and the owner of a $300,000 home would see the District 200 portion of their tax bill increase from about $5,140 to roughly $5,230.

Board member Jim Gambaiani was the lone dissenter on the board, saying he disagrees with seeking the maximum amount and thinks the district should find a "middle ground" levy amount.

Board member Jim Mathieson said levy laws that prohibit districts from retroactively collecting new growth property taxes put the district in the awkward position of "taxing to the max."

"If we don't tax to the max, we run into the problem of not being able to go back. We have to work within the legislative direction imposed on us," he said.

"The best we can do is make sure we are spending the dollars wisely and monitoring where it goes."

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