Huntley School District 158 residents to see $148 increase in tax bill on $200,000 home

District taking 5% increase tied to inflation, which is the maximum allowed

Huntley District 158 is photographed on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Huntley.

Residents paying into Huntley School District 158 could see their tax bill for the district increase by about $148 on a home with an assessed value of $200,000, officials said.

The new tax levy for District 158 went up for a final vote on Thursday, with the board hosting a public hearing prior to the vote. Five residents spoke at the meeting about the levy, with all of them criticizing the board for taking the maximum increase allowed under state law.

Former County Board member Paula Yensen spoke at the meeting and asked the board why they aren’t making cuts in other places, and said living expenses have gone up.

“I urge you to vote no on the increased tax levy,” she said.

One resident pointed to it being an election year, and suggested that raising the levy could hurt the board’s chances at reelection. Several board members are up for reelection in April.

“If you vote yes, you are going to be called out for it, by many, many people,” he said.

That $148 increase could go up or down depending on the value a resident’s home in the district is assessed at.

The increase of the levy from last year will total about 6.54%, according to the documents from the district. However, existing taxpayers will only be affected by a 5% increase tied to inflation, with the remainder making up new construction within the district’s boundaries.

Several taxing bodies across Illinois are capped at a 5% increase tied to inflation for their levy from year-to-year. If they exceed that, the taxing body must host a public hearing. District 158 will have to do so, but District 158 CFO Mark Altmayer said the district does so every year to promote transparency, regardless if it passes that threshold.

The 5% increase tied to inflation is the first time the district has levied the maximum since at least 1991, according to district documents. Before that, the highest increase came in 2007, when the district levied a 4.1% increase.

“We need resources to continue doing what we’re doing,” Altmayer said at the meeting on Thursday.

The district opting to take the maximum amount is due to inflation coming in at 7%, according to the consumer price index used by the district. The district is allowed to increase its levy at either the same rate as the consumer price index, or 5%, whichever is lower.

The new levy is expected to come in at a little more than $75 million, according to district documents. When calculating a new levy, school districts often include a 1% “balloon” amount, which comes into play if the estimated value of new construction is under what was expected.

The district estimates new construction will come in at $24 million total for new properties. If that number turns out to be higher, up to 1% more can be applied, Altmayer said. Although, the odds of the district needing that entire 1% are “slim to none,” he said.

If the “balloon” amount were to be maximized, it would mean an additional $751,000 in revenue, according to district documents.

Another component to this year’s levy is the district planning to abate $750,000 in debt in January, which should reduce that 5% increase to about 4.12%, Altmayer said. That abatement comes a few months after the district restructured its debt.

District 158 is a pre-K through 12-grade school district with nine schools. It serves parts of Kane and McHenry counties.