Hidden Costs Could Plague District 230
As officials examine the 2012 property tax levy, worry grows over shortfalls that might hit the district.
An Orland Park mall's property tax dispute with Cook County and declining funds from the state could cause multimillion-dollar shortfalls for District 230, officials said Thursday.
The dire forecast comes as the Consolidated High School District 230 School Board adopted resolution on an estimated property tax levy that includes a $1.4 million increase over what district taxpayers were billed last year. Even with some major shifting of funds, the district needs a 1.5 percent hike for the 2012 levy to help cover costs.
The estimated levy, totaling about $100 million, was approved in a 4-1 board vote Thursday night inside Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park. A final levy will need board approval in December before it can be submitted to the Cook County by deadline on Christmas Day. Last year, Cook County property tax extension for District 230 totaled $98.9 million.
Board member Michael Hastings cast the lone "no" vote. He raised concerns over hidden costs that could cause shortfalls for the district.
Illinois has steadily decreased the amount of money it sends to District 230 to the tune of about $2 million a year, according to district numbers. Because of this, the district is turning more to property tax for revenue.
“Our tax levy is so important to us because we’re getting hit so hard on state aid," said Steve Langert, assistant superintendent of business services.
Orland Square Mall's ongoing dispute over how much it should pay in property taxes could play a major factor in a shortfall. Upwards of $5 million in lost property taxes would fall on the district to cover if a ruling lands in the mall's favor, Langert said.
Cook County likely will charge district taxpayers even more than what District 230 is considering in the levy.
The district expects the county to set the full increase in the property tax levy at 3.2 percent. The reason, official said is to cover costs from anticipated property tax errors, payment defaults, objections and appeals.
The board is expected to address the levy again at the Dec. 20 meeting. It must be filed with the County Clerk by Dec. 25.
The levy relies on some shifting of funds to maintain priorities. The district proposes pulling about $2.3 million from the working cash and another $2.8 million from operations and maintenance budget to cover increases in other operating expenses, including IMRF, social security, special education and a large increase in education.