Fox Lake District 114 tax referendum too close to call

A ballot question to raise property-tax revenue for building repairs and teacher wages in Fox Lake Grade School District 114 was too close to call Tuesday night.

With ballots from all election-day precincts counted - but without early votes, vote-by-mail or provisional ballots included - 613 voters were in favor of the plan and 475 were against it, according to the unofficial results.

If the lead holds, the new property tax revenue would generate about $1.4 million annually to pay for roof replacements at the district's two schools, Lotus Elementary School in Spring Grove and Stanton Middle School in Fox Lake. In addition, the funds would pay for the creation of secured entrances at both schools.

The funds would also go toward a new fire-sprinkler system, an air-conditioning system, electrical work and safer exits for people with disabilities at Stanton Middle, according to officials.

Teacher salaries would increase as well, officials said. The district had the lowest starting salary of all 96 districts in Lake County at the start of the current term, officials said.

The district's tax rate is set to drop by 59 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation because the loans that funded the construction of Lotus School are about to be paid off.

If the ballot measure is approved by voters, the district's portion of the tax bill will stay about the same as this year's, roughly $394 for the owner of a house valued at $200,000. For that reason, officials touted the plan as a "zero rate change." Officials promoted the plan for months on the district's Facebook page with the tagline "Make The Difference."

But if the results from early voting, vote-by-mail and provisional ballots tip the vote against the plan, the district's portion of a resident's tax bill should decrease.

Because of health concerns amid the global coronavirus pandemic, district schools have been closed since March 14 and will be closed through at least Sunday, March 29, following Spring Break.

The Fox Lake Grade School District 114 educates about 750 students in northwestern Lake County, according to state data.

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