Judge to rule whether Dist. 202 tax-cut question stays on April ballot

 
 
Updated 12/6/2018 11:09 PM
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A DuPage County judge will decide if a question to reduce Lisle Unit District 202's property tax levy remains on the April ballot.

The DuPage County Electoral Board last month refused to remove the ballot measure, which would ask voters if District 202's levy should be lowered by roughly $1.9 million.

Now a Lisle resident is asking a judge to overturn the electoral board's decision. Arguments in the case are scheduled for Dec. 19.

"We are hopeful this will remain on the ballot for the community to decide," said Mark Stern, the attorney representing members of the group pushing for the referendum question.

The question is possible because of a state law approved last year.

As part of that law, school districts with an "adequacy level" for education funding that's 110 percent or more are eligible for referendum questions that seek tax cuts. The adequacy level reflects how much the state believes a school district should be spending to educate students in comparison to what the district actually spends.

District 202 is among the DuPage school districts with an adequacy rate that exceeds 110 percent.

So members of a group called Go Refund Me collected more than 1,400 signatures -- nearly 400 more than needed -- to put a binding tax-cut question on the April 2 ballot.

But Lisle resident Joshua Martin filed an objection to the group's petition. He argued the proposed ballot question fails to meet a requirement outlined in the law because it calls for a reduction of property taxes "for the 2018 levy year."

Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, Martin's attorney, says the state law requires the ballot question to request a reduction of property taxes for the 2019 levy year -- the same year the election is held.

"The way that the electoral board interpreted the case, it's going to take away the levy from the school district in the middle of the year when they're spending their budget," Krafthefer said. "It's going to blindside them. We don't believe that's how the statute was worded."

Stern, however, says the electoral board made the correct decision.

"I'm hopeful that the court will concur," he said. "Obviously, we'll see what the judge has to say."

If the electoral board's decision stands and the question appears on the ballot, Go Refund Me members say it would be good for District 202 taxpayers.

The group has been critical of District 202 for using tax revenue to build up reserves, allowing the school board to build a new school without seeking voter approval.

A successful request would reduce the district's levy by 10 percent or the amount that would bring it down to a 110 percent adequacy rate, whichever is less.

If District 202 voters approve the ballot question, the levy for the district's education fund would be reduced to $17.15 million from $19.06 million.

Meanwhile, it's estimated the property taxes homeowners pay to the district would decrease about $100 per $100,000 of a home's value if the ballot question is approved.

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