Millburn Elementary District 24 voters will decide a referendum question asking for permission to allow a larger-than-usual property tax increase only for next year.
District 24's measure is one of 13 referendum questions on Lake County ballots April 9. A majority pertain to whether local governments should be allowed to seek cheaper electricity for residents and small businesses.
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Covering an area that includes Lindenhurst, Wadsworth and unincorporated Lake County, District 24 is seeking voter permission to go beyond a state-imposed cap on annual property tax levy increases only on bills issued in 2014. School officials say they need the ability to make up for recent reductions in state and federal education funding.
Under 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 each December, whichever is lower. The latest CPI was 3 percent.
The ballot proposition asks that voters allow District 24 to push the property tax levy increase limit from 5 percent to 12 percent, while eliminating the CPI as an option if it is lower, for one year before reverting to the current level. If approved, the measure is projected to cost an extra $228 on Millburn's portion of the tax bills for the owner of a single-family home with a $200,000 market value.
Superintendent Jason Lind said Friday the one-time move to raise the tax cap would be projected to generate $800,000 to $900,000 in additional revenue. He said officials understand the request comes amid economic uncertainty.
"We are trying to protect the taxpayers in asking for only what we need to sustain the programming and lower class sizes," Lind said.
Millburn board members in late December voted 7-0 in favor of placing the measure on the ballot. Along with helping to reduce the average class size from 30 to 25 students, officials said the additional cash would help fund a statewide transition to a more rigorous curriculum and preserve activities such as band and choir.
Rejection of the request would likely force further budget cuts and potential elimination of some student programs not required by the state, Lind said. District 24 has made budget cuts for four consecutive academic years.
Another tax hike question will appear in Round Lake Park. Voters will decide whether the village should raise property taxes to bolster the police pension fund, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 market value home an extra $90.58 in 2014.
Voter permission to borrow for construction projects will be on ballots in Township High School District 113 in Deerfield and Highland Park, and in McHenry High School District 156.
Meanwhile, the idea of allowing local governments to pursue cheaper electricity for residential and small-business customers will be on ballots in unincorporated Ela, Lake Villa and Warren townships. It'll also appear in Volo, Old Mill Creek and Zion.
Voters in Mundelein will get to decide whether the village clerk should shift from an elected to an appointed position.