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Kirby D140 OKs tax hike with split vote

The Kirby School District 140 Board of Education decided Dec. 14 to ask for $40.3 million in 2017 property taxes, a 3 percent increase over the prior year’s request.

It is the board’s desire to capture last year’s consumer price index, or rate of inflation, of 2.1 percent, plus 0.9 percent for new growth—more than the growth the District anticipates (0.4 percent).

Typically, taxing bodies are permitted to levy for and collect property tax dollars based on last year’s CPI or 5 percent, whichever is lower, while accounting for new construction.

District 140, like many school districts in the State of Illinois, is anticipating a multi-year property tax freeze.

The Village of Tinley Park has redevelopment ideas for the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center, which is in area bound by a tax increment finance district.

A TIF District sets aside tax revenue for a specific purpose, keeping it away from standard public entities like school districts.

“Any kids [who would live there] are essentially going to go here free without being taxed, because of what Tinley Park is trying to do,” Board President Thomas Martelli said.

What’s more is Cook County does not provide estimates for equalized assessed valuation of existing properties or new construction to help support taxing bodies in determining how much money to levy for and collect.

Board Member Deborah Kowalski said she needs more information in order to make a more informed decision and went on to question why the School Board must increase property taxes.

District 140 has no outstanding debt, to date. They currently have $50.98 million in reserves.

Director of Business Services Michael Andreshak tried to temper the concern raised by Kolwaski.

“As you know, we’ve been deficit spending the last couple years,” he said. “If the State does come back and ask for the money for the pensions, that could be $8 to $10 million we would have to take out per year. So, if we have no reserves, we have nothing. So, what we’re doing is we’re just building up those reserves.”

Andreshak said reserves have been decreasing the last three years.

“We’ve managed that money very well over the years,” Martelli said. “We do not do extravagant things with it, but we’ve managed it.”

Martelli said District 140 has cut as much it can and emphasized that the district has limited overhead and administrative costs.

Board Vice President Chuck Augustyniak wanted it be clear that even if the levy were flat, taxes could still go up for some of District 140’s constituents.

“We don’t control all of whether taxes go up or down,” he said. “If the value of your house goes up, even if the levy is flat, your tax bill will still go up.”

In a 5-2 decision, the board came to a consensus to adopt a resolution for the levy for and collection of 2017 property taxes. Augustyniak and Kowalski cast the dissenting votes, and Board Member Lisa Strand was absent.

Round it up

A brief recap of Dec. 14 School Board action:

  • Officials authorized the disposal of 78 Apple TV converter boxes that staff said is outdated.

  • The board awarded Arbor Tech Services a lawn-services contract, paying $824 for weekly lawn cutting and another $594 for weekly shrub pruning and trimming. The agreement stipulates that there is a maximum 3 percent increase annually, starting in 2019.