State

Property tax legislation approved by Illinois Senate adjusts how state tax cap works for school districts, other taxing bodies

Bill was sponsored by state Sen. Don DeWitte, who represents areas in McHenry and Kane counties

The Illinois Senate unanimously approved a change this week regarding a state cap on how much school districts, most villages and other local entities can raise property taxes each year.

The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, who represents the 33rd Senate District. It now moves to the Illinois House, where state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, is serving as the bill’s chief sponsor.

In a news release Friday, DeWitte said the legislation improves local taxing bodies’ ability to properly budget based on property assessment data.

“This is a technical change to PTELL that will make a big difference for our local taxing districts, like schools, that rely on assessment data to properly budget and plan for issues such as programming and staffing,” DeWitte said in the release. “As frustrating and burdensome as property taxes are in this state, we must ensure our governmental entities that depend on those revenues to provide important public services that we rely upon are funded at expected levels. This measure is not a tax increase; it simply closes a loophole that has created unanticipated revenue reductions for taxing bodies.”

When taxing bodies – such as school districts – set their property tax levies in December, they do so using estimated equalized assessed valuation data provided by township assessors. Assessments aren’t finalized until the spring after an appeal process.

DeWitte said because of those appeals, human error and other issues, the amount of revenue paid by taxpayers is less than what was expected, which throws budgets out of balance.

Huntley School District 158 Chief Financial Officer Mark Altmayer, who also serves as president of the Illinois Association of School Board Officials, said in a news release that these assessment issues have resulted in some school districts having budget shortfalls as high as $2 million a year.

The bill sponsored by DeWitte, Senate Bill 508, guarantees the calculated assessment value committed by assessors and pushes assessment changes and the extension shortfalls to the next tax year’s assessed valuation.

More than 75% of school districts are considered by the state to not have enough local funding to meet the standards set by the state in its funding formula, Altmayer said.

As such, “these dollars are critical to maintain and improve services for our students and communities,” Altmayer said in the release.

The 33rd Senate District stretches from Lakewood and Lake in the Hills south through Hampshire, Gilberts, Pingree Grove and West Dundee near Elgin and through the west side of St. Charles to the northern end of Batavia.

Emily Coleman

Emily K. Coleman

Originally from the northwest suburbs, Emily K. Coleman is the editor for the Northwest Herald. She spent about seven years prior to that with Shaw Media, first covering the town of Dixon for Sauk Valley Media and then various communities within McHenry County from 2012 to 2016.