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Tax abatement, fee waiver passed by District U-46

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved of a tax abatement and a waiver of most school fees in 2021-2022 at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 22.
  The abatement amount is $9.6 million on a portion of the 2020 debt service levy totaling $66 million.
  The district annually raises its property tax levy by the maximum amount under the law, even as enrollment continues to drop. The stated purpose for the abatement is to provide some relief for taxpayers, but administrators have admitted in the past the measure effectively kicks the can down the road preserving the tax increases for taxpayers to pay in the future.
  Board member Melissa Owens called it a “fact” that U-46 has to “take benefit of the full levy every year” because of inflation. Illinois law does not require that school districts raise their property tax levy.
  This is the sixth year an abatement has been done. U-46 has abated $38.7 million during that time.
  Regarding fees, all instructional fees will be waived for the coming school year, which the district said will cost between $2.3 million and $2.5 million. Optional fees, like athletics and driver’s education, will be charged and will remain largely the same.
  The only change in optional fees is for the high school lifeguard course fee, which will increase from $34 to $45.75.
  Additionally, nearly $500,000 in expenditure proposals along with $7.3 million in itemized bills were also unanimously approved.
  Included was $308,000 (operations and maintenance fund) to Oak Brook Mechanical Services, Inc. for an HVAC replacement project at the district’s business services and grounds department building and a $126,278 (education fund) contract renewal with Tyler Technologies for support and licensing for the district’s human resource, finance and payroll software MUNIS.
  A proposal costing $37,415 (operations and maintenance fund) was presented and approved that evening for a fire alarm control panel replacement at Elgin’s Ellis Middle School. The district has already purchased the equipment from Johnson Controls after the fire alarm system failed at Ellis, according to the proposal.

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