DeKalb School District 428 Board cuts 2023 property tax levy

School district officials say they don’t know exact effect to taxpayers’ bills

Superintendent Minerva Garcia Sanchez (center) sitting in on a tax levy discussion had April 9, 2024 during the DeKalb School District 428 board meeting.

DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 Board this week approved of cutting the district’s 2023 property tax levy with the intent of lessening what officials said could be an increase in cost to some taxpayers.

The decision came in a 4-1 vote during a special meeting after a presentation on the topic last week. The only dissenting vote was cast by board member Amanda Harness. Board members Vanta Bynum and Andre Powell were absent.

Board action was prompted by what school district officials said is a need to revise its 2023 property tax levy to reflect a record number of home assessment appeals processed by the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The number of appeals changed what government officials have calculated as an estimated property value pool for the city. The change lowered the district’s overall taxable property value.

The city of DeKalb also recently approved an amended levy, citing the same reasons.

District 428 generally accounts for the highest collection on homeowners’ property tax bill.

In response, the school board approved a plan to lower the district’s property tax collection to about $67.5 million, down from a previously planned tax levy collection of $71.2 million approved in December, documents show.

“Based on figures from the county, it is estimated that a residential homeowner of a $300,000 house on average will pay roughly the same taxes as the previous year to D-428,” district staff wrote in documents presented to the school board.

Tax bill savings could vary based on where a resident lives, however, documents show. Property tax levies are calculated based on the taxable properties’ values, known equalized assessed value, and the rate a governing body sets to determine how much they’ll collect from residents’ property tax bills.

“We’re in a position where we have three of our townships [that] had exponential economic growth EAV-wise compared to the rest of the townships,” board member Christopher Boyes said. “That’s why we’re seeing that some people might save almost $300 and some people pay almost $160 more a year depending on which township you fall in. Correct?”

According to school board documents, DeKalb (9.53%), Malta (10%) and Milan (10%) townships saw the most growth on average from existing properties among the district’s townships.

Boyes asked whether the district is in a position to maintain the promise it made to taxpayers last year not to increase taxes across the board.

“We can’t. This is a county assessment process,” Armir Doka, the district’s director of business and finance, said in reply. “What we did was support the recommendations from the county. We did the weighted average.

“So we don’t know any indication of every individual’s tax bill. We don’t get involved too much with the tax rates. Because you can see this estimate, this EAV, this assessment, these are all changing. All we want to have is operational taxes to run our services. That’s what we’ve been focusing on.”

Superintendent Minerva Garcia-Sanchez said the district is doing what it can to lessen the potential influence that taxpayers may feel.

“Basically, we adjusted the amount that we’re lowering,” Garcia-Sanchez said. “We continue to lower our levy an additional $3.7 million. So, [that’s] a total of $16.3 million in total that we’ll be lowering our levy for.”

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