Niles Township High School District 219 school board unanimously passed a $131.4 million 2011 tax levy Dec. 12.
The levy, which is the amount District 219 is asking Cook County to collect for it next year, is 8.22 percent higher than the $121.4 million in property taxes the district collected this year, according to documents provided by the school district.
But taxpayers shouldn’t get too upset yet, school officials said.
The district’s ultimate tax extension for next year – that is, the amount it will actually collect – will show a smaller increase, said School Board President Robert Silverman. That’s because the Illinois Property Tax Extension Limitation Law of 1991 does not allow local governments such as school districts to increase the amount they collect by more than the rate of inflation or 5 percent, which ever is lower, plus the taxes collected on new property.
Last year’s increase in the consumer price index was 1.5 percent, so that is the average increase that most homeowners should see, said Paul O’Neill, the assistant superintendent for business services. Because Niles Township is mostly built out, there won’t be too much in the way of new property added to the tax rolls.
However, some property could come out off Tax Increment Financing districts, which are set up to encourage redevelopment by setting aside any increased taxes to benefit the TIF area. TIF districts have a finite lifespan, and when they expire, the new value of the property within them gets added to the general tax roles.
Local governments such as school districts generally levy — or request — more money than they believe they can get under the tax cap, because they want to get every dollar possible. That’s not only because they want the money for next year, but because the tax extension for each year is based on the year before. That means that levying for less money than a district can legally receive would cut into the amount it could receive in every subsequent year.
Silverman said the district has generally asked for much, much more money than it could receive — sometimes up to a 20 percent increase — even though officials knew their requests were not realistic.
An 8 percent increase is also highly unlikely, Silverman acknowledged. Still, he said, “I feel much better that the gap is narrower.”