Thursday, April 6, 2017

Voters pass 11 tax hikes, 11 bond issues, two sales tax plans

Unofficial school referendum results from the April 4 election show voters approved 11 of 15 tax increase questions, 11 of 20 bond propositions, and two of eight county sales tax plans. The passage rate was 73 percent for district tax increases this time around, more than twice the historical average of 36 percent recorded since 1989.

Local school districts were successful with four tax increase proposals for educational purposes. Tax hikes per se were approved in Deer Creek Mackinaw CUSD 701 (a 30 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund); Edwardsville CUSD 7 (a 55 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund); Pinckneyville CCSD 204 (a 25 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund); and Princeton Elementary SD 115 (a 70 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund). Seven tax increases were also approved through Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) ceiling increases.

Voters apparently failed to pass tax referenda in Aviston Elementary SD 21, a proposal that fell two votes short on election day, although it could still be adopted if pending absentee vote counts favor it; and another tax hike failed by just 49 votes Metamora CCSD 1.

As mentioned, other local tax increase propositions were on the ballot to increase the funds raised under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). Such proposals were approved by voters in:

  • Antioch CCSD 34 (a PTELL debt service extension base increase to be used for paying off limited bonds by establishing the base at $1.4 million)
  • Benjamin SD 25 (a PTELL debt service extension base increase from $582,671 to $997,500; it represents a rate increase of the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index during the prior levy year)
  • Berwyn South SD 100 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.6 percent above the limiting rate for levy year 2015)
  • Dakota CUSD 301 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.70% above the limiting rate for levy year 2015 and equal to 5.58 percent of the EAV of the taxable property for levy year 2017; the amount of taxes extendable would increase to $5.15 million from the total of $4.5 million extended in 2015)
  • Evanston/Skokie CCSD 65 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.595% above the limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2015; this would raise the limiting rate to 4.166 percent of the EAV of the   taxable property in the district for levy year 2016)
  • Oak Park SD 97 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 1 percent to bring the total to 4.982 percent for the 2016 levy year; the approximate amount of additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $266.85)
  • Taylorville CUSD 3 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of .85 percent above the limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2016; for the 2017 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $283)

PTELL tax hike proposals were defeated in just two districts: Norridge SD 80; and Sandwich CUSD 430.

Although tax increases fared the best by far, the 55 percent passage rate for building bond issues this time around was just above the mean average approval rate seen for bond issues in April elections in odd-numbered years since November 1989, which stood at 50 percent. But the 55 percent rate this time was slightly below the 58 percent approval rate seen for all building bond elections overall.

Building bond issues were approved in 11 school districts:

  • Brookfield LaGrange Park SD 95 (a $20 million bond issue to help defray the cost of improvements to an elementary and a middle school)
  • Center Cass SD 66 (a $12.9 million proposed construction bonding plan to upgrade two junior high schools, and a grade school)
  • Cerro Gordo CUSD 100 (an $8 million proposition for construction of an addition to the junior high school, and to make repairs to the existing building)
  • Diamond Lake SD 76 (an $11.4 million bond issue to improve the district’s school buildings)
  • Franklin CUSD 1 (a $2.5 million bond issue to create an addition to the Franklin Junior/Senior High School, and repair other existing buildings of the district)
  • Glen Ellyn SD 41 (a $24.2 million bond issue to make improvements at five school buildings, and construct an addition to a junior high school)
  • Hononegah CHSD 207 (a $17.8 million bond proposal to build and equip a new fieldhouse addition to the high school that’s designed to replace a dome that collapsed during a winter storm in 2015)
  • Mount Vernon SD 80 (a $5.5 million bond issue for various building repairs and upgrades, and to construct and equip a middle school gym)
  • Northbrook/Glenview SD 30 (a $36.3 million bond issue to replace a grade school, and to make improvements to two other schools)
  • Oak Park SD 97 (a $57.5 million bond issue for repair of various school buildings)
  • West Chicago CHSD 94 (a $37.5 million bond issue to make repairs to the high school building, and build and equip an addition there)

Bond issues were defeated in nine school districts:

  • Bureau Valley CUSD 340 (a $17 million bond issue to construct a new building in Sheffield, and to make improvements and additions to two high schools)
  • Erie CUSD 1 (a $13.8 million construction bond project to transform a high school into an elementary school, and make a middle school into a combined high school and middle school)
  • Galena USD 120 (a $21.8 million bond proposition to repair one school and construct another)
  • Hawthorn CCSD 73 (a $42 million bond issue for additions and repairs to district schools, including construction of new STEM facilities)
  • Hinsdale THSD 86 (a $76 million bond proposition to repair and replace large portions of two high schools)
  • Metamora THSD 122 (an $11 million bond issue for constructing an addition to the high school, along with making safety improvements, adding a new library and computer labs, and making improvements to the fine arts and vocational-tech instructional spaces)
  • Newark CHSD 1 (a $16 million bond proposition for improvement to the high school building, including construction of a new gym and fine arts center)
  • Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200 (a $132.5 million bond issue to construct a new building to replace an early learning center, and to make repairs and additions to school buildings throughout the district)
  • Winnebago CUSD 323 (a $12 million bond issue to construct and equip a building for transportation and administrative purposes, and make repairs to other buildings)

Of eight countywide sales tax increase proposals earmarked for school facility purposes, voters approved just two, in Cumberland, and Montgomery Counties. Some of those proposals were decided by relatively narrow margins, with a 259-vote defeat (21,846-22,105) in Madison County and a 193-vote victory margin (1,924-1,804) in Montgomery County.  To date 49 counties have adopted a sales tax to benefit school facilities, or nearly half of the state’s 102 counties.

In other voting, a proposed school consolidation failed to combine Alwood CUSD 225 and Cambridge CUSD 227. But another kind of school district reorganization passed in Bismarck-Henning CUSD 1, where the board was seeking voter authorization to enter into an agreement to jointly operate a cooperative high school with Rossville-Alvin CUSD 7.

Meanwhile, voters approved at least two of five propositions to require at-large election of school board members.  Such proposals were adopted in Community High School District 117 (Lake Villa), and Northwestern CUSD 2 (Palmyra).