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Batavia School Board approves $73 million levy, despite opposition

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 7:44 a.m. CDT
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(Eric Schelkopf – eschelkopf@shawmedia.com)
Batavia residents are imploring the Batavia School Board to lower the district's tax levy.

BATAVIA – The organizer of a loosely formed group opposed to the Batavia School District 101’s proposed $73 million tax levy said she will seek the replacement of board members after they unanimously approved the levy Tuesday night.

“We’re going to try to recruit and replace school board members,” Sylvia Keppel said after the vote.

Keppel, who started a website, www.lowerthelevy.com, was among those who spoke against the proposed levy during a hearing before the vote. Keppel and others have posted 100 “Lower The Levy” yard signs across the city. A few residents spoke in favor of the levy.

Board member Jon Gaspar said lowering the levy would result in cuts to programs and larger class sizes.

“My best interest is for the success of this district,” he said.

School board members approved a $73 million levy, up from last year’s $66 million extension.

As proposed, the owner of a home valued at about $230,000 would see taxes decrease by about $28 next year. School district officials pointed out that neighboring Geneva School District 304 is expected to increase taxes by $300 next year for the owner of a $315,000 house and that St. Charles School District 303 is expected to increase taxes by $295 next year for the owner of a $300,000 house.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance Kris Monn has said this year’s levy will need to be large enough to capture all of the equalized assessed value returning to the district’s tax base from the expiration of Aurora’s tax increment financing district No. 2, which includes the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora and significant industrial properties in the Interstate 88 corridor.

“The projected EAV from these properties is just above $92 million,” Monn said. “Without these properties, our levy request would have been approximately 1.6 percent higher than last year, not the 12.92 percent we are recommending with the TIF properties returned.”

School officials said the addition of the tax revenue from the Aurora TIF No. 2 properties has allowed the school board to begin to restore some of the reductions made over the past four years, especially in the area of class size and instructional support.

Keppel had proposed that the money from TIF No. 2 be distributed back to taxpayers through a decrease in the levy.

“If that money were to be distributed to the tax base, that would result in a drop in property taxes for the average homeowner of a $240,000 house of nearly $400,” Keppel said.

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