Taxpayers in Niles Township High School District 219 can breathe a sigh of relief.
The district intends to request no increase in property taxes next year, according to school board president Robert Silverman.
Silverman brought up the issue of the tax levy – conspicuous by its absence on the agenda – at the Nov. 26 school board meeting.
“One of the things that’s missing is our annual levy request,” Silverman said. “The law requires us to publish if we’re seeking more than a 5 percent increase. It is not our intent to seek a levy increase of more than 5 percent; in fact, our intent is not to seek an increase at all. It is to freeze our tax extensions.”
The move is unusual for school districts in Illinois, who function under a property tax cap that limits each year’s tax increases to a percentage of what was collected the year before. That means that if a school district does not ask for the maximum it can get every year, it will forgo that tax revenue in perpetuity.
The cap is set at the increase in the consumer price index for the previous year, plus additional money for new property added to the tax rolls. However, districts don’t know what the new growth will be when they set their tax levies, so they don’t know exactly how much they can get.
District 219 traditionally has done what most districts do: ask for at least a little bit more than they think will be allowed, so as to make sure they get everything they can. Last year, the district asked for an 8.22 percent increase in its tax levy; its actual increase in collections was about 3.13 percent.
But the school board came under fire after property tax bills came out in July because a shift in the tax base from industrial to residential property meant some individual homeowners – including Silverman – were hit with double-digit increases.
Silverman is not expecting that to happen this year. "We are not looking at an increase at all – zero,” he said.
However, the actual number for the levy had not yet been set. The board plans to meet Dec. 3 to go over the details, he said.