The school boards for both Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 and Crystal Lake High School District 155 gave first-round approval to propose property tax levy increases at meetings earlier this week. 

District 155’s estimated tax levy is 1.37% higher than last year’s, while District 47’s is 2.56% higher than its previous tax extension. The final votes on the levies are scheduled for Dec. 14 for District 47 and Dec. 15 for District 155.

At a Tuesday school board meeting, District 155 also voted to abate $1 million that it otherwise would have collected to cover debt payments.

“We are mindful of our current economy and the need to rebate money back to taxpayers while safeguarding the district’s finances to continue to offer the best education in McHenry County,” 155Jeremy Davis, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said in a statement. 

District 155’s equalized assessed value – the overall value of the taxable property in the district – is expected to increase 3.9%, not including new property. However, homeowners will, on average, see an increase of less than 1.37%, spokeswoman Shannon Podzimek said in an email.

That translates to $29.35 more for the owner of a home worth $250,000 this last year for the portion of their tax bill that goes to District 155.

However, because the district’s property tax levy is growing slower than assessed property values in the district, tax rates are expected to fall. That means if the owner of a $250,000 home does not see their assessed value increase, the amount they pay to District 155 will be less.

In District 47, the proposed levy of $76.59 million would translate to an increase of about $54 on a home valued at $200,000 in 2020. Last year, District 47’s tax levy extension was $74.6 million.

Cathy Nelson, assistant superintendent of business services for District 47, said this year, estimated new property coming into the district is $5.1 million.

With the district’s tax levy request, Nelson said, they are trying to capture the new property constructed, although it will not be finalized until spring. 

District 47 uses money it gets from the levy for life, safety and operations maintenance projects, including furniture replacement. The money also goes to implementing instructional initiatives, Nelson said, including the expansion of 1-to-1 technology the district has pursued because of remote instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Over the past five years, according to a news release from District 47, the overall tax rate has decreased from $4.39 per $100 of assessed value to an estimated $3.83. 

According to District 155 officials, the 1% tax increase is inflationary and helps District 155 continue its three-year plan to complete the air conditioning projects at Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake Central high schools. 

During District 155’s strategic planning process, Davis said, parents and students both said the district needed to prioritize its facilities. 

Over the past seven years, District 155 has spent $87.5 million to improve its schools, using operating fund surpluses and fund balances to complete repairs and renovations, according to the release.

If its school board approves its final tax levy and the $1 million abatement, District 155 will receive an additional $1,041,120 for budget year 2021-22, which the district said also will help it “weather the storm” from potential state budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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