Gary H. Smith
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Property Tax Levy Increases On the Way

By Gary Smith
Property Tax Levy Increases On the Way

A variety of Illinois communities are banking on property tax levies to finance school district budgets and general funds in the coming year. School districts in Northbrook and the Rock Island County Board are just some of the state entities looking to get more dollars from property taxes.

Northbrook School Districts 30, 34 Approve Tax Levy

In December 2018, both Northbrook District 30 School Board and School Board District 30 voted for increases in the 2018 property tax levy. The District 30 Board of Education voted unanimously on a 10 percent increase while the District 34 School Board had a unanimous vote for a 2.6 percent levy, which is roughly $52.4 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2020.

For District 34, that translates to about $52 more in property taxes each year for a $440,000 home.

The Cook County Clerk’s Office determines the levy amount based on the previous year tax extension for existing property and new properties. However, since those assessed values are not known when the district has to vote on its levy, school districts often request a higher amount than they expect to receive. For instance, though District 30 requested 10 percent, it anticipates an increase closer to 3 percent.

Rock Island Looks to Boost General Fund

In November 2018, the Rock Island County Board approved an 11.9 percent increase in the county’s property tax levy, which translates to about $33 more a year for a $100,000 home. The county is looking to make up for a nearly $500,000 shortfall in the Rock Island County General Fund.

Like elsewhere in Illinois, unfunded pension liabilities are the driving force behind the county’s property tax levy increase. And just like elsewhere in Illinois, this is making it less attractive to move into Rock Island County, and it could be pushing residents to cross the Mississippi River over to Iowa, where Scott County had a property tax rate of 1.64 percent in 2017. That’s more than 35 percent lower than the property tax rate of Rock Island County that same year.

In fact, a 2018 report on the consumer finance website WalletHub found that when adjusting for cost of living, the median household in Iowa faced a lower state and local tax burden than the median household in Illinois.