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Largest tax levy allowed ratified by District U-46

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 finalized a 3 percent property tax levy increase with a 7-0 vote at its Dec. 14 meeting, which was held electronically due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  Approved was a certificate of tax levy and an accompanying resolution.
  The levy, which is the largest allowed under the law, increases 2019’s extension from $327.5 million to $337.3 million. Officials said homeowners can expect a 2.3 percent increase on the U-46 portion of their tax bill.
  Included is a 3.5 percent increase ($285.1 million to $295 million) in the corporate and special purpose levy. That is a defensive levy as U-46 awaits final equalized assessed valuations next year, and the district expects a 2.7 percent increase to $292.8 million.
  From 2015 to 2019, the corporate and special purpose levy extension has increased 8.8 percent ($262 million to $285.1 million).
  Board member Melissa Owens justified the increase, which the board has annually approved of the maximum allowed tax hike, calling it “protecting the district from becoming behind” as it “allows us to capture the inflationary amount.”
  U-46 openly states “the District is entitled” to take as much from taxpayers as legally possible in its determination of tax levy, which was approved by the board in November, which is why it levies defensively.
  The hike comes as the economy continues to struggle due to government’s response to COVID-19. It also comes when the district saw its largest drop in enrollment, a loss of 1,391 students, during a six-year trend of decline.
  Dale Burnidge, director of financial operations, said the district is planning an abatement of $3.9 million which will be brought to the board in February.

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