Education

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 moves forward with 3.5% property tax levy increase

Money to go to building improvements, district learning initiatives

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47's administrative office is photographed on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

To help with various building improvements, including adding air conditioning to schools that don’t already have it, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 is looking to increase how much it collects in property taxes.

An official public hearing and final vote on the property tax levy will come on Dec. 13, after which it will be filed with the McHenry County Clerk’s Office.

District 47 falls under a state law that limits how much taxing bodies like school districts can raise their levies by each year, tying the increases to inflation plus new construction, such as a new subdivision or an addition on a home.

District officials are looking at increasing how much it was allowed to collect last year by 3.5% to $79 million, said Cathy Nelson, its assistant superintendent of business services.

About $7.2 million in new construction is expected to come onto the tax rolls, Nelson said. The rate of inflation for levy purposes was 1.4%.

The money District 47 receives from the property tax levy will go to future district projects, instructional initiatives and honoring provisions in employees’ collective bargaining agreements, Nelson said.

“Just this school year, we have our life safety, operations and maintenance projects, which includes our furniture replacement cycle, which at the end of this year, we’ll be moving into the third phase of,” Nelson said.

Several buildings in the district are also scheduled to receive improvements to their air conditioning systems, she added.

Over the next several years, District 47 is looking to make about $19.5 million worth of capital improvements to its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Initial projects include adding air conditioning to Husmann, West and Canterbury elementary schools, as well as Lundahl and Bernotas middle schools; replacing major mechanical systems at Woods Creek Elementary School; and enhancing air quality in classrooms and offices throughout the district’s facilities over the next several years, according to district records.

Whether an individual property owner saw an increase would depend on if their home’s assessment stayed the same, increased or decreased, Nelson said.

For the owner of a home worth $300,000 that sees a 3% increase in their property value assessment, the estimated tax increase would be $43 for the year for the district’s portion of the tax bill. Homeowners who do not see an increase would see a savings of about $70 for the year. However, these numbers are subject to change depending on if the tax rate and new construction, among other factors.

The tax levy increase was given initial approval by all board members except Emily Smith, who abstained after being appointed to the board earlier at that same meeting.