District 303 approves tax levy increase for 2013

Average homeowner will see 2.5 percent increase

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 6:25 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – The average St. Charles homeowner likely will see an increase of 2.5 percent or less in the school district portion of the property tax bill now that the District 303 School Board has approved its 2013 tax levy.

The board approved the tax levy Monday evening for an aggregate tax levy of $161,253,257.

Seth Chapman, the district’s chief financial officer, told the board that the average homeowner likely would see about a 2.5 percent increase, but did not have dollar figures available Monday evening to demonstrate how much extra a homeowner of a $200,000 or $300,000 home would pay.

The board also approved a debt service levy abatement for 2013 in the sum of $1.8 million.

Chapman said the district’s debt service will drop by $16 million by 2017, when it will go from $22 million to $6 million. In the past two years, the district has abated $4.3 million.

“We have expiring debt service in 2017 and the Board of Education is trying to be cognizant of that,” Superintendent Don Schlomann said. “For two years, we were able to lower that by $4.3 million. You’re abating that increase so it’s not nearly as much impact on taxpayers.”

Patti Lopuszanksi, who spoke during public comment during the tax levy hearing, questioned why the special education fund was more than $10 million in the 2013 levy when last year, she said, it was about $2 million.

“Is there a reason that increase is so significant?” she asked. “I really have not read about program changes for next year.”

Schlomann explained that each individual fund within the levy is, “in some respect,” interchangeable.

“It’s just a matter of bookkeeping as to where they are,” he said. “There is an increase in costs, but not by the tune of $8 million.”

While the difference between this year’s and last year’s special education fund doesn’t mean the increase will be as much as $8 million, board member Kathleen Hewell said she thinks there needs to be an increase in special education funding because the state isn’t paying as much as it used to.

“We can see the students, multiple students, who are costing the district $100,000 a year,” she said. “I’m not defending it; I’m saying we’re stuck doing it.”

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Jan Schlictmann at a Geneva law firm.

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