Administrators in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 are recommending a 2.4 percent increase in the property tax levy -- the district's first levy that will be only for operations and carry no debt payments.
The recommendation, first heard by the school board's budget and finance committee Wednesday, combines the consumer price index or rate of inflation of 2.1 percent with an allowance for a 0.3 percent increase for new development and redevelopment.
With the district to pay off the last of its debt in December, the recommended levy amount is lower than it would have been if the district were still carrying debt, Superintendent Dan Cates said.
The recommended levy seeks $222.8 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. But Chief Operating Officer Lauren Hummel emphasized that this is the amount of the district's request, not what it actually collects.
The past year saw an unprecedented $9 million in refunds from property tax appeals, while the typical annual amount is about $5 million, she said.
Among the capital projects being recommended for the year the next levy will serve is the expedited replacement of the oldest 25 to 30 buses in the district's fleet of just over 160 buses. Usually between 10 and 13 buses are replaced each year, but the ones earmarked for replacement are over their expected service life of 10 to 12 years, Hummel said.
The school district is allowed to increase its annual levy by the rate of inflation with an allowance for new growth.
But not increasing the levy by the full rate of inflation in a given year could have a long-term impact on the district's finances and potentially risk taking on debt again, Controller and Treasurer Barbara Peterson said. That's because the size of the increase allowed each year is a set percentage more than that levied the previous year; lowering one year cuts the size of the potential increase in following years.
Board member Robert LeFevre Jr., who chairs the budget and finance committee, said that if the district compares itself to itself, the difference between last year's levy and the recommended one looks like an increase. But as it's based largely on the generally accepted rate of inflation, he questioned whether it really is an increase.
Administrators will present their recommendation to the full school board at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the district's headquarters, 1750 S. Roselle Road in Palatine. The board is scheduled to vote officially on the levy on Nov. 9 and then approve it on Dec. 14. The amount of the levy must be filed by Dec. 26.