Voters authorize take rate hike in Fox Lake District 114
While the results were too close to call Tuesday night, it now appears voters have a approved a request to raise the property tax rate to fund building repairs and teacher wages in Fox Lake Elementary School District 114.
With ballots from all election-day precincts counted, as well as early, mail and provisional votes, 850 voters were in favor of the plan and 647 were against it, according to the unofficial results Wednesday.
"It looks like we've got it," Superintendent Heather Friziellie said. "I wasn't ready to call it last night."
The rate hike will generate about $1.4 million annually, which will be used 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 will pay for the creation of secured entrances at both schools, a new fire-sprinkler system, an air-conditioning system, needed electrical work and safer exits for people with disabilities at Stanton Middle.
Some of the money also will go toward teacher salaries. Friziellie said district teachers are the lowest-paid in Lake County.
"It's going to make a life-changing difference for kids in this school district," Friziellie said. "I'm impressed and proud of the 114 community."
The higher tax rate will be offset by expiring debt, meaning homeowners' tax bills will stay about the same, and that's one reason Friziellie believes the measure passed. Had it been rejected, the district's portion of a resident's tax bill would have dropped by 59 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.
"There were no bells and whistles things on the list; it just allows us to retain staff, have safe and secure facilities and will help kids learn," Friziellie said. "All those things are a win, not just for kids in 114 now but for whole community."
Because of health concerns amid the global coronavirus pandemic, district schools have been shuttered since March 14 and will remain closed through at least March 30.
"Especially in these trying times, the fact that the community gave us a 'yes' speaks to our commitment to our kids," Friziellie said.