Some residents unhappy about higher Grayslake school tax levies
Some residents of a Grayslake subdivision are expressing disappointment with higher property tax levies approved for next year by two school districts serving the village.
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 0.70 percent.
While the CPI is 0.70 percent, school districts often seek more than the capped amount because it does not apply to new construction added to the tax roll. That's the reason elected boards at Grayslake Elementary District 46 and Grayslake High School District 127 voted Thursday night in favor of tax levies beyond the 0.70 percent cap for next year.
However, the actions to seek the maximum amount of taxes possible drew criticism from Carillon North resident Paul Bernardoni and others who live there.
Bernardoni spoke to the District 127 board on behalf of the Grayslake subdivision targeted toward people 55 and older, where about 400 residents signed petitions asking the school districts to freeze the levies or not go beyond the Social Security increase of 0.30 percent for next year.
He said the school districts demonstrated a lack of accountability to taxpayers by approving levies exceeding the cap.
"These actions could eventually lead the legislature to freeze levies to a specific dollar amount," Bernardoni said. "And, to get more, you will have (to hold) a referendum."
District 127 Associate Superintendent Michael Zelek said next year's tax levy request of 3.56 percent more was approved because the school system wants to capture revenue from an anticipated $5 million in new construction coming onto the rolls for the first time. He said about $200,000 in new revenue is projected.
At District 46's meeting Thursday night, the board approved a 3.43 percent property tax levy increase for next year. Like Zelek, Chris Bobek, District 46's assistant superintendent of business and finance, said the request beyond the 0.70 tax cap was to ensure maximum revenue from an expected $4.6 million in new construction next year.
"We don't want to take the risk of actually losing that new revenue from property," said Bobek.
Bobek said District 46 has lost a potential of $800,000 to $1.2 million in revenue since a previous school board in 2012 voted against seeking as much as possible through the annual tax levy.
Several Carillon North residents raised questions at a District 46 tax levy forum led by Bobek in September. They also had concerns at District 127 and District 46 board meetings in October.