$7 Million Tax Hike? Tell the School Board: Lower the Levy

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.)

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11 Responses to $7 Million Tax Hike? Tell the School Board: Lower the Levy

  1. CLO says:

    How does the proposed 200,000 sf addition on the Outlet Mall, proposed to be completed in 2015 affect the tax base? Wouldn’t the 2015 project be “new construction?”

    • lowerthelevy says:

      Yes, the 2015 project would be considered “new construction” for the first applicable taxing year. So whatever tax money comes from that addition will, for the first year, not be included in the amount subject to the tax cap. After the first year, the addition will be incorporated into the amount subject to the tax cap (the tax base). Since the mall adds no students to the school system, any taxes from the mall are simply “icing on the cake” for the school district. Once the mall property is incorporated into the tax base, the bar is raised for the next year’s taxes (in effect, permanently, since taxes almost never go down).
      The time to seek relief for taxpayers is when the new construction is tallied. Reducing the requested levy by the amount brought in by the mall is our only chance for a break. The time for the initial benefit is now; the time for any benefit from additions will come when the additions are entered as “new construction”. If we wait until after the parcels are integrated into the tax base to ask for taxpayer relief, there will be no “extra” money left, as I am sure the school district has a wish list a mile long. This money has been anticipated for years. Once they get it, they will not let any money go.

      • lowerthelevy says:

        OK, it’s more complicated than that. According to the Daily Herald 11/23/11, new TIF districts were created to cover the expansion, so we won’t see the addition listed as “new construction” for 23 years. They’ve reached some sort of agreement with lesser benefits to Batavia until then.

  2. Pat Train says:

    Sounds greedy to me for sure. The school board thinks Batavia homeowners have excess $ at their disposal for whatever they desire. I say no way to their proposal. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that $ 75 million they got to build that field house and auditorium – the auditorium is to my mind a playhouse for Batavia disguised as the school auditorium – nice for sure but not necessary for our little town with limited means .

  3. Cheryl Tietje says:

    Tell your neighbors and everyone you can think of to go on the website or attend the meeting….or both. It’s easy to go on the LowerTheLevy.com website and email a message to the school board. Once this is done, it’s too late to be sorry about it!

  4. Kurt Gerken says:

    WHAT OF THE PHRASE “STOP SPENDING” CAN’T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND?

  5. FOIA Everything says:

    I commend you on your efforts. All School Boards and Administration need to be investigated for their spending. Administration contributes nothing towards their pension, check the raises, “stipends” they received over the past years. Our school district gave 10,000 raises last year and a 45,000 “stipend, over the last 3 years. The latter to a glorified janitor. How do you stop the insanity of spending, they don’t care, it’s not their money.

  6. Da Judge says:

    Those Batavia teachers are hard working. Give them the raises they’ve earned all of you tight wads!!!

  7. lowerthelevy says:

    The taxpayers of Batavia are already overly generous with teacher salaries. From the 2012 Illinois District Report Cards, Batavia teachers were paid an average of $79,896. AVERAGE! In comparison, Geneva’s average was $72,305, St. Charles $70,411. Administrators averaged: Batavia $129,464; Geneva $112,744; St. Charles $115,616. We throw the most money at out schools, with the worst results. ACT scores: Batavia 23.3; Geneva 24.6; St. Charles 23.5. Don’t tell us the teachers of Batavia have earned raises beyond their already high salaries. It’s time to cut the budget and make real changes.

    • Btown says:

      So you use ACT score to judge whether teachers are doing their jobs? ACT score is the most useless test, I had roommates in college with perfect ACT scores who flunked out their first semester. People put too much weight on statistics and standardized tests. When will people realize that how you do on a test isn’t going to predict how you do in college?

      • lowerthelevy says:

        Hey, I agree. A wonderful educational psychology professor I once had summed it up well regarding standardized tests when he gave us the definition of an I.Q.: “An I.Q. is what an I.Q. test measures.” In other words, standardized tests generate numbers that some people assign great importance to, but are meaningless in measuring actual achievement or ability. He advised us to not even look at standardized test scores when we became teachers. I wholly agree with him. I only threw in the ACT scores comparison because that is what the education establishment uses to determine success, and all kinds of legal and bureaucratic nonsense is tied to those scores. My comparison shows that money spent is not directly related to student achievement on those tests. (And if you look at the numbers, neither is class size.) Especially with No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now, extensively, Common Core, it’s all about tests. Why do you think every 6th grader in Batavia now has his/her own school-issued Google Chromebook, if not to take more computerized, nationally standardized tests? 6th grade is just the pilot program. Pretty soon every student will have one.

        If it were up to me, I’d eliminate all standardized tests and work on a model that all students should achieve proficiency in areas before moving on. But that is something that would rely heavily on the teachers with cooperation from parents, something our current educational model does not promote.
        It is much easier to teach to the tests, and some will pass, some will fail, but as long as the school meets the given quota, we’re considered OK (or not, as is the case this year). That’s simply the way it is, and you’re not going to see anyone in the Batavia school district, including the current school board, buck the system.

        And, by the way, I don’t even consider how someone does in college to be a good measure of success. Look at all the really successful people who dropped out of college. Even financial success is not a good determination, in my opinion. “Success” too, I suppose, is determined by one’s measuring tool. When discussing vocations with children, I like to follow this line of reasoning, “Who is more important to society, the lawyer or the garbage man? The professional baseball player or the teacher? Whom would you be worse off without? The amount of money one is paid often has little bearing on value to society. Whatever you end up doing in life, do the best job you can.”

        The questions that really need to be asked are, for parents, “What is my ultimate goal for my child? What kind of person do I want my child to grow up to be?”, and for parents and teachers, “What can we do to help the child get there?” That brings an entirely different perspective to education.

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