District 102's tax levy hike not as hair-raising as it seems, officials say

Updated 12/15/2020 5:37 PM

At first glance, Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary School District 102's tax levy increase might raise some eyebrows. But the explanation for the nearly 15% hike given by Stacey Bachar, assistant superintendent for business services, likely soothed any irate residents attending Monday night's virtual public hearing.

The school board Monday passed a 14.89% tax levy increase for 2020, with the estimated total property taxes to be levied and collected in 2021 at $38.2 million.


But Bachar made it clear that the increase to property owners actually will be much lower when the taxes are extended in the spring, prior to the tax bills going out.

The projected hike is a result of what is called a balloon levy, she said.

Districts typically do a balloon levy in December because property assessments -- especially on any new properties -- are not finalized until the extension in April. The balloon levy allows the capture of new development that will ultimately be subject to the tax cap.

"We levy at 15% basically to make sure that we can cover any new properties coming on to the tax rolls," she said.

The district is bound by the tax cap, which says the levy can't exceed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less. This year, the CPI is 2.3%.

New properties are exempt from the cap the first year they come on to the rolls, so the balloon levy ensures that new developments within District 102's borders, such as Link Crossing and Woodman's Market, are included that first year at their full value. In subsequent years, the tax cap is applied to them.

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"So the reason for the 15% levy is really just to make sure that, since we don't know the actual values of all those properties in December, we can capture the full value of those properties when they do come onto the tax rolls," Bachar said.

When the levy is extended in April, Bachar said she expects the actual increase, including the new development, to only be about 3.28%.

School board President Ellyn Ross asked, and Bachar confirmed, that if the district does not capture those new properties this year, they will be off the rolls forever.

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