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D161’s 2021 tax levy shows 1.5% increase, with two abatements keeping numbers down

After a number of twists and turns in the face of multiple options on how to approach its 2021 tax levy, the Flossmoor School District 161 board of education gave its final nod of approval to a 1.5% increase over last year’s tax extension.

The school board voted unanimously Monday, Dec. 13, to approve a total levy of $25.51 million.

The district applied for another two-year Property Tax Relief Grant, through which it is to receive $1.71 million in state funds in exchange for $1.89 million in property tax abatements for two consecutive years.

One of the complications of this year’s levy is that the board received a similar PTRG in 2019, and the abatements related to it expire this year. That left the board with the option of making those abatements permanent or returning to pre-abatement figures, which would lead to the appearance of a greater increase over last year’s tax bills.

The district elected to return to pre-abatement figures, but in addition to abating $1.89 million related to the new PTRG, the district is also abating any refund recapture the county adds to this year’s tax rolls in accordance with State Senate Bill 508. It also estimated a 3% increase to existing Equalized Assessed Value and $500,000 in new property for a total EAV of $478.74 million in the district for 2021.

A Public Truth in Taxation Hearing was held during the meeting prior to the approval, but no members of the public spoke about the levy.

Associate Superintendent Fran LaBella gave a third presentation in a series. This presentation went over total levy versus individual tax bills.

LaBella explained that individual tax bills are proportional to the total, so they can rise or fall with changes in the overall levy. But the size of a particular slice of the proverbial property tax pie is related to both the value of the total and the size of other pieces. So when the total value is decided and a business receives a reduction in its taxes, essentially taking a smaller slice than expected, who is paying that bill shifts.

That means while the overall increase in the tax levy over last year’s extension is 1.5%, individual taxpayers could see greater increases or even reductions, depending upon how the pie is ultimately split among all taxpayers, LaBella explained.

Other business

  • Alyssa Zajack, a teacher at Parker Jr. High School, was recognized as December’s second quarter #AboveAndBeyond honoree. The award recognizes teachers for their hard work and dedication to District 161.
  • The school board voted unanimously to extend its agreement with SHIELD to provide COVID-19 testing in its schools. The agreement was set to expire on Dec. 31. Jackie Janicke, District 161’s director of special education, earlier in the month presented the board with the possibility of amending the agreement to test until June 30, 2022, to finish the school year. The program remains free to the district.

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