Education

Crystal Lake District 47 asks for more in property taxes

Levy helps with capital projects, including improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 is looking to collect more money in property taxes next year but some homeowners still could see the amount they pay fall, district officials said.

The school board unanimously approved a $79 million tax levy at its meeting Monday, a 3.5% increase over last year, which district officials said they need to fund maintenance projects across various school buildings.

While the total tax levy is set to rise, whether an individual property owner sees an increase will depend on if their home’s assessment stayed the same, increased or decreased, Nelson said.

The owner of a $300,000 home that saw its value increase by 3% would see an increase of $43, while the owner of the same home where there was not an increase would save about $70.

Among the improvements planned are projects involving heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, boiler systems, roofs and flooring, as well as other building improvements and furniture replacement, said Cathy Nelson, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services.

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, according to a district newsletter.

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.

“Priority has been placed upon the capital improvements of the HVAC systems for the health and safety of our students and staff this year in light of the pandemic,” Nelson said.

The property tax dollars also help the district carry out different strategic plan initiatives and educational programs and cover the costs of the district’s collective bargaining agreements, Nelson said.

Salary and benefits make up about 72% of the district’s operational costs in the budget for fiscal year 2021-22, Nelson said.

District 47 falls under a state tax cap that limits how much taxing bodies like school districts can raise their levy by each year, tying the increases to new construction within the community plus inflation.

About $7.2 million in new construction is expected to come onto District 47′s tax rolls, Nelson has said. The rate of inflation for levy purposes was 1.4%.

The district plans to apply for a property tax relief grant from the Illinois State Board of Education for up to $6.4 million, Nelson said. Districts’ eligibility for this grant are based on their tax rates. Currently, District 47 ranked 182 out of 851 districts under the state’s ranking system, she said.