New Trier Township High School District 203 taxpayers will be asked to come up with $88.2 million in property taxes next year, according to an estimated 2011 tax levy, the 2011-2012 rate, approved by the school board Oct. 17.
That amount would be approximately a 2.84 percent increase over the taxes collected on behalf of the district in 2011, based on the 2010 tax levy.
But District 203 Associate Superintendent Donald Goers doesn’t expect the district to collect quite that much next year. Goers estimates the amount of taxes that the district can actually collect, known as the tax extension, will be closer to $87.3 million, roughly a 1.8 percent increase over this year’s tax collection.
The district will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2011 levy at its Dec. 12 school board meeting before voting on the matter, even though it is not required to do so. State law requires public hearings only when the proposed tax levy increase is more than 5 percent.
Meanwhile the amount the district can collect is limited by the state’s property tax cap, which sets the maximum increase in taxes collected by school districts, park districts and other units of local government at the increase in the previous year’s consumer price index plus any taxes collected from new growth in the property tax base. The CPI increase for 2010 was 1.5 percent.
The difference between the estimated tax levy approved by the school district and the projection Goers sees as more likely is in the amount of new construction the district sees. The estimated levy passed by the school board is based on about $80 million worth of new property coming on to the district’s tax rolls. While the district has seen that amount of new growth in the past, Goers said he believes that the housing recession will limit new growth in the district to about $20 million this year.
New Trier Township High School District 203, like most Illinois taxing districts, seeks to maximize the amount it collects by asking for more than it thinks it can get. In part, that’s because each year’s tax extension depends on the extension the previous year. Not levying enough money to collect all the money possible under the tax cap means that all future tax levies will be reduced as well.
“Once a taxing body has not made a sufficient levy to require the full extension under this act, it is penalized every year thereafter because the extensions from the prior years will always be less than what would have been available had the taxing body levied the full amount,” Goers explained in a memo to the school board.
The district benefited this year by asking for more money than it believed it could get, Goers reported. Last year, the district expected that there would be about $20 million worth of new property, but levied as if there would be $80 million, just as Goers proposed for the 2011 levy. When the district got final figures from the Cook County Assessor, it found that there was $44.5 million in new property. As a result, the district can collect about $395,000 more than it expected because of the addition of new property.
Taxpayers did see higher rates on their tax bills, Goers said, but that’s because property values declined throughout the district in what was a reassessment year during a housing recession. The tax rate is determined by dividing the tax extension — the total amount the county will collect on behalf of the district — by the total value of property in the district. However, the district is not close to its maximum allowed tax rates, Goers said.
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