Residents Speak Out Against District 46 Levy Increase
Grayslake Consolidated Community District 46 school board approved an 8.3 percent tax levy increase.
More than 50 residents attended a public hearing Wednesday on the tax levy proposed for Grayslake Consolidated Community District 46. The audience clapped and cheered as about 12 people stood up and strongly voiced their concern against raising taxes in a time of recession.
School board members passed the 8.3 percent tax levy increase after three hours of discussion amongst themselves and with the community members. The board members decided to ask for the highest tax levy possible, even though state law prohibits raising taxes on current homeowners by more than 5 percent, or the inflation rate, whichever is lower. The Consumer Price Index this year is 2.7 percent.
If the 2.7 percent tax levy is approved in the spring, the owner of a $200,000 home would have to pay an additional $292 a year, said business manager David Tylavsky.
Shannon Smigelski, who runs the D46parents group on Yahoo.com, urged the school board to find another solution to cover the school budget other than asking the taxpayers to pay more taxes.
She said that her taxes have increased significantly in the last 8 years she has lived in Grayslake and her family couldn't afford another tax increase because they are already working three jobs.
Al Sparrow, who has lived in the district for 13 years, challenged the board to "think of creative solutions."
Sparrow said he was challenged as a business owner to meet the bottom line without raising the price of the products. He said the "easy" solution is raising taxes.
Grayslake resident Joan Seifert said her husband and she were warned against moving from Libertyville a few years ago because of the high taxes. But she said they fell in love with the community and their home.
But Seifert said she was frustrated that the taxes have continued to rise from an already high rate.
"When is it going to stop?" Seifert said. "It's getting obscene."
School board member Michael Carbone repeated his opposition to increasing the tax levy by any amount. He said he couldn't support a tax levy because of the foreclosures he has seen in the community and teachers' salary increase this year.
Other school board members said the district already had reduced their budget by $6 million this year. Board member Keith Surroz said the board could explore increasing class sizes and cutting programs but they would have to consider how those options would affect the students.
Sue Facklam said the budget was approved in September factoring in a tax increase and it would be difficult to make up the difference without it now.
The board agreed to set aside a portion of each of their meetings going forward in an attempt not to raise the tax levy next year.
During the board meeting, Superintendent Ellen Correll announced the district had received $733,000 from the federal government through the Education Jobs Fund. She said she wanted to help as many people as she could within the restrictions before the September 2011 deadline to spend the money.
Correll said she decided to thank the teachers and staff by allocating $1,100 to 320 teachers who are not planning to retire in the next four years. The districts' 10 principals and assistant principals received $5,500 each.
Correll said she is still working on other avenues to use the money, but she has allocated about $50,000 to cover the cost of staffing summer school and $150,000 to cover early retirements.
A few residents criticized Correll's plan to give "bonuses" to the teachers. Smigelski suggested more money should have been used to encourage teachers to retire early.
Correll said she consulted the school board on how to use the money although she did not need their approval.