While the economy struggles and Batavia residents bend under the staggering weight of their property taxes, the school board is proposing a $7.16 million tax increase. They’re seeking the maximum increase allowed by law (1.7% over last year’s taxes, or roughly $1 million), plus the taxes from new construction (roughly $6.2 million). The $6.2 million come mostly from the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall. The mall is not exactly “new”, but rather, newly recognized as a taxable body since the recent expiration of the Aurora TIF district that had been diverting those tax dollars. The Outlet Mall accounts for about $5.96 million of those $6.2 million in taxes the Batavia school district will be receiving from new construction.
So, what’s the big deal? Don’t government bodies always make a grab for all the money they can get their hands on? Sadly, yes–usually. But here is a case where the Outlet Mall places no burden on the school district (since it does not add students to the rolls) and so the school board has the opportunity to give the taxpayers in the Batavia school district a much-needed break from their high property taxes. If the school board would lower the proposed levy by the mall’s $5.96 million, the average homeowner (home value $240,000) should see a nearly $400 drop in property taxes. The school district would still get an increase of $1.2 million over last year. With the current proposal, the school district would get an increase of over $7 million, and the school board tells us we should get a $20 reduction from last year’s taxes.
Additionally, if the Outlet Mall gets added onto the levy as proposed, for a total increase of over $7 million, a new set point will have been established, and the next year’s levy will be based on that new higher amount. By law, the levy can be increased by no more than the lesser of either 5% or the Consumer Price Index (1.7% this year). New construction doesn’t count toward that calculation. So for 2014, the mall will no longer be new construction, but will have become part of the last year’s tax extension. When the school board asks for the next levy increase (they usually seek the maximum they can get), the % increase will henceforth include the large taxes from the mall.
As you all know from experience, taxes very rarely go down, but most always up. Give the government more money, and they will find ways to spend it. Once the mall is formally integrated into the tax base, there is little-to-no chance of homeowners realizing any significant relief in their property taxes due to the generous taxes paid by their neighbor, the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall. Now is the time to act.
Please contact the school board and ask them to “Lower the Levy!” Tell them you’d like to have the mall taxes distributed to the taxpayers rather than added on top of the 1.7% increased levy. The school district will still receive an extra $1.2 million to work into their budget, and you will be able to keep a little more of your hard-earned money.
Then come if you can to the Dec. 17, 7 pm, public hearing on the levy. Let the school board know that people are watching and do care how the school district is run. If you choose to speak, let them know how their taxes are affecting you and that you’d like them to lower the levy. Immediately following the hearing, the levy will be voted on at the regular school board meeting.
Lastly, spread the word. Get others to contact the school board. The more voices we can gather, the greater the likelihood of being heard.
(Editor’s note: The estimated values regarding the mall have been changed slightly since the original posting, as more accurate calculations have been made. See the “Levy” page for detailed explanation.)