Inflation, increasing labor costs impacting St. Charles School District tax levy

St. Charles Community Unit School District 303

Inflation and rising labor costs are two factors that are having an impact on the St. Charles School District 303′s proposed tax levy.

The proposed $180 million tax levy is a 5.95% increase over last year’s levy, which includes debt service.

“That does not mean, however, that we are increasing property tax bills by almost 6%,” Justin Attaway, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, told school board members during the School Board’s Business Services Committee meeting Nov. 28.

A public hearing on the proposed levy will be held during the school board’s Dec. 12 meeting. Illinois property taxes are paid one year in arrears.

Attaway said he expects the Kane County Clerk to reduce the levy increase to about 5.41% when it is actually extended to the community. As he noted, the levy’s impact on tax bills is largely dependent on an individual homeowner’s property assessment.

“The actual increase or decrease to tax bills is calculated by the county and is influenced by a number of factors, including the fluctuation of the ratio between residential property and commercial property, changes to individual property values as compared to the entire property value of the district and the final amount of new growth,” Attaway said.

This year’s levy request is higher because of a number of factors, including inflation, which has caused the district to pay more for existing services and supplies. In addition, Attaway said labor costs have increased drastically nationwide along with supply chain shortages.

“Personnel costs account for 77% of the district’s operating budget and because of that our budget is extremely sensitive to increases in labor costs that we have seen nationwide,” Attaway said. “And while mitigating the effects of high inflation can be difficult enough, supply chain shortages have further compounded the issues. The economic laws of supply and demand have driven certain expenses that the school district must incur, like food costs, even higher than inflation.”

Attaway said the district will continue to look at ways to reduce costs.

“For example, when the board approved a new banking institution that saved the district more than $75,000 a year in fees,” he said.

In addition, he said the board could look at more creative solutions, such as keeping old buses for parts to reduce the cost of future repairs.

Board member Becky McCabe took note of all the factors affecting this year’s levy.

“This is more complicated than folks understand,” she said. “I think you’ve done a good job of helping those of us who don’t have degrees in finance to understand this.”