Lake Zurich Unit District 95 board members have approved a property tax levy increase for next year that's the maximum allowed by a state-imposed cap.
Although no District 95 residents publicly complained about the recent move to boost the 2017 tax levy, such was not the case at other Lake County school systems. In addition, at least one Lake County town is holding the line on next year's levy to help taxpayers.
Under Illinois law, school districts are limited to seeking a property tax increase of 5 percent or the rate of inflation -- the consumer price index -- whichever is lower. The CPI for this year is 0.7 percent.
While the CPI is 0.7 percent, school districts often seek more than the capped amount because the cap does not apply to new construction added to the tax roll. That's why District 95 board members agreed to approve a 4.72 percent levy hike for next year.
Vicky Cullinan, District 95's assistant superintendent of business and operations, said it's projected that $16 million in new construction will be within the school system's borders that can be captured for property tax purposes.
Some Lake County residents have started questioning tax levy increases, including those living within the boundaries of Grayslake Elementary District 46 and Grayslake High School District 127.
About 400 residents of the Carillon North subdivision, targeted toward people 55 and older, signed petitions asking the Grayslake schools to freeze the levies or not go beyond the Social Security increase of 0.30 percent for next year. The effort was unsuccessful.
Grayslake resident Bill Morris, a former state senator and Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board director, has been among those raising concerns about school districts seeking the maximum tax levies allowed under the cap. He said it's an issue because schools typically account for about 75 percent of a tax bill.
"What is troubling about this practice is that it shows a sloppy form of budget making," said Morris, also a former Waukegan mayor. "The school board should determine its financial needs and then levy what they need and not display a disrespect for the taxpayers by just grabbing every possible cent."
In Lake Villa, officials announced there will not be a property tax levy increase next year.
"The village has a long history of being fiscally responsible and we took this opportunity to help property owners by not raising taxes," Lake Villa Mayor Frank Loffredo said.