District 211 seeks legislation to return $3 million to taxpayers from land sale
Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 officials are seeking state legislation allowing them to return $3 million to taxpayers from the district's recent $17.7 million sale of land in Schaumburg in a way that wouldn't lower this year's tax levy and permanently affect the starting point for all future levies.
The school board's 4-3 vote to pursue such legislation last month followed a failed vote to abate the $3 million by lowering the recent 2020 levy, which only members Mark Cramer and Pete Dombrowski supported.
Because the tax cap law limits how much the property tax levy can be increased from one year to the next, a lowered levy would have an ongoing impact on future years. Administrators reported that a continued slow decline in the district's fund balance was anticipated over the next five years, but one expected to stay within an acceptable range.
Board members unanimously voted down a proposal to allocate $5 million from the land sale for capital improvement projects in a future year. The proposal was criticized for the unknown nature of such projects.
Opinion about pursuing legislation to enable a $3 million tax abatement during the 2021 tax year was almost evenly divided among board members.
Dombrowski expressed concern about the district's use of legislators for one-time items, believing it let them off the hook from pursuing longer-term tax relief.
"I'm not very optimistic that this is the best way to go," he said.
But Cramer was among the majority that disagreed, saying he thought it could show more legislators how tax abatement can be done.
Though draft legislation had been written ahead of the board's vote, its potential passage in Springfield isn't expected to be a quick process.
But such a bill could be signed as early as May and then be in effect for the 2021 tax year, District 211 administrators said.
The school board will set the 2021 levy in December. Any abatement of that amount would have to be filed with the Cook County clerk's office by March 31, 2022.