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Letter: Somonauk schools are in need of tax rate increase

Published: Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

When you go to vote in the Nov. 6 election, if you live in Somonauk School District 432, you will see a question on the ballot about Somonauk schools wanting to increase the maximum allowed tax rate for the education fund by 0.9 percent. 

Why are they asking for this when other districts are not? Somonauk schools are in the rare situation of being split between two counties, DeKalb and LaSalle. 

Schools in counties around us are able to levy higher taxes because they are in “tax-capped” counties. Tax-cap districts can levy a tax rate that allows them annual revenue increases of either five percent or the rate of inflation as determined by the consumer price index (this year at 3 percent), whichever is less. This type of district is limited to how much new money they can bring in when property values are going up. However, when property values fall, they are still able to levy for increased revenues.

With the majority of the Somonauk schools’ tax revenue coming from LaSalle County residents, the district must abide by LaSalle County tax law, which is called “nontax-capped.”  The schools will receive the percentage allocated times your property’s EAV (Equalized Assessed Value). When housing prices increase, the schools receive more funds. When housing prices are falling, the schools receive less. The schools cannot increase the taxation percentage without asking voters for a referendum. 

In reviewing two income areas – education fund revenue and funding from the state of Illinois – the revenue Somonauk schools have to work with is down $1,129,677. And revenues are expected to decline again next year. The schools have reduced expenditures from 2009 levels by more than $1.8 million per year. Reducing expenditures any more will require cuts to critical student programs. As a result, the school board will ask taxpayers in District 432 to approve an education fund tax-rate increase when they vote in the November election.

It is important to note that even with a ‘”yes” vote for this tax-rate increase, the average homeowner still will pay less in taxes to support Somonauk schools than they did in 2009.

Somonauk schools continue to be the pride of our community. They are committed to our children and preparing them for their future. Find more information about the referendum at www.citizensforsomonaukschools.com.

Karen Bonn

Somonauk

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