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Homewood Schools tax levy set at $17.6 million

The District 153 School Board on Monday approved its 2016 tax levy of $17.6 million.

The levy is a “guesstimate” by taxing bodies because several important numbers that drive property taxes aren’t set yet

“We’re using last year’s (2015) Consumer Price Index (CPI) against this year’s property values to figure out next year’s taxes,” John Gibson, chief school business official, told the board members.

The district set its levy at 6.35 percent above last year to make certain it collects taxes on everything it is owed, including new properties. If the number is set too low, the district could lose out on increases.

The district will file its levy with the Cook County Clerk’s Office by the end of the year. It shows $14.8 million in school funds, such as the education, transportation and building and maintenance funds, and an additional $2.8 million in the bond and interest fund.

The district must wait for the Illinois Department of Revenue to set the tax rate multiplier. The Cook County Assessor’s Office uses that state number to determine the equalized assessed value (EAV) of local property.

The district is also limited by the state’s tax caps that stipulate tax increases can be 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. Gibson said he is using a 2015 CPI number of .7 percent that should bring in about an additional $97,000.

The education fund, covering salaries, has been at or near its maximum rate of $3.50 per $1,000 assessed value since the 2012 levy year, Gibson told the board. 

South suburban property values have plummeted since the 2008 housing crisis. For District 153, it has meant a 40 percent loss in EAV since 2012, he said. It seems that property values – in terms of market values – are turning up, but that hasn’t changed the property assessments.

Gibson said the South Cook quadrant reassessment will be in 2017. He expects that should give the district increases in EAV in 2018.

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