D-304 board backs 1 percent levy of $79.9M

GENEVA – In a split 6-1 vote Monday, the Geneva School District 304 Board approved a resolution for a 1 percent tax levy increase for next year.

Board member Mike McCormick cast the lone “no” vote, saying he preferred a zero percent levy and that the district should rely on cash reserves to carry over any shortfall.

The total amount requested for  the 2013 levy is nearly $79.9 million, $650,000 less than if the board requested the 1.7 percent maximum that it can legally request. The amount is based on the consumer price index.

The district’s 2012 levy was $78.5 million.

Taxing bodies in Illinois make their levy requests to the county based on what they need and the equalized assessed value of property within the district. Final action will be taken in December.

The 1 percent levy recommendation would increase property taxes on a house with a fair market value at $315,000 by $305, officials said.

A zero percent levy request would have brought in $79.2 million and cost the same homeowner an additional $252, officials said, but would have brought in $1.3 million less, officials said.

The board majority was not willing to risk a shortfall on a zero percent levy.

“We are not taking everything that we could, we are taking what we need,” board member Kelly Nowak said of the 1 percent levy.

“Reserves are there when we need them,” McCormick said. “If not now, when? ... There’s more foreclosures doing down my block every week. Taxes are still going up, but not as hard. Let’s tighten our belts.”

About 50 people in the audience applauded McCormick’s comments.

But other board members opted for the 1 percent levy, cautioning that the district does not know the potential cost of all-day kindergarten, a pension shift or other cuts in state aid.