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District 304 OKs 1.5 percent levy

GENEVA –  Despite requests from residents to seek a zero percent levy, the Geneva School District 304 board Monday unanimously approved a 1.5 percent levy increase.

The total amount requested for the 2012 tax levy is $80.5 million, which is a nearly 6 percent increase over last year’s levy request of $76.2 million.

Taxing bodies in Illinois make their levy requests to the county based on the equalized assessed value of property within the district.

The 1.5 percent levy increase would hike property taxes on a home with an equalized assessed value of $315,000 by $340, officials said. The tax rate would increase by .34 to 6.06 per $100 EAV, officials said.

Resident Robert Mann, who serves as chairman of the Geneva Economic Development Commission, urged the board to take a zero percent levy request.

“The school taxes right now in Geneva, in my opinion, are depressing and holding down property values,” Mann said.

But Jason Flaks, a middle school music teacher, urged the board to take the full levy amount available, which was 3 percent on the 2012 property tax.

“My feeling is, levying anything less than the full amount will be a mistake you will regret for years to come,” Flaks said.

The 1.5 percent levy will give the district $900,000 less money, officials said. Flaks said that loss will compound and affect the district’s programs.

“There will come a time when dollars won’t stretch any more,” Flaks said.

Board member Kelly Nowak said the loss is closer to $1.3 million.

“Our intention is to cut that lost amount, lower the levy and continue to do those abatements in the future,” Nowak said.

The district is abating or reducing taxes to be levied back to residents to try to keep the debt service at $14.7 million. The board abated $3 million in January for the 2011 and 2012 tax years for a 2007 bond issue.

“When we levy for less than the full amount, we do realize a smaller income even though it is larger than what we had in the past,” Nowak said. “At 1.5 percent ... we might not be able to hold that debt service level. What the board is committed to … is taking a look at cuts.”

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