D46 Board Votes Down Tax Levy Increase

The District 46 School Board voted 5-2 against approving the proposed $1.4 million tax levy increase, which could have cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $484 in property taxes next year.

The District 46 School Board yielded to the overtaxed Grayslake community Wednesday by voting down the proposed 4.5 percent tax levy increase.

The board's final tax levy hearing included a presentation by the business manager and a stream of public comment from residents and business owners who pleaded with the district to live within its means and find creative ways to save money and reduce spending instead of raising taxes yet again.

In a move that surprised many, the board took heed, voting down the proposed $32.6 million tax levy 5 to 2.

Board members Michael Carbone, Kip Evans, Ray Millington, Shannon Smigielski and Keith Surroz voted against the levy, while Sue Facklam and Karen Weinert voted in favor.

"If we continue down this road, it will starve all of us," said Evans prior to declaring his vote.

Decreased levy

A second vote was then needed to establish a new levy request in order for the district to file with the county by Friday.

After some discussion with attorney Kevin Gordon on how to proceed, a motion was made to submit the total levy with a decrease of $750,000 from the $21 million levy request for the Education Fund, the district's largest operating fund.

The measure was approved 5 to 2, with Facklam and Weinert opposed.

Gordon said the Education Fund was the only fund where a decrease could be made, because the funds for Bond and Interest, Municipal Retirement and Social Security had required increases which could not be altered.

Therefore, the $32.6 million proposed levy turned into a request for $31.9 million—the same levy request as last year, which resulted in an extension of $31.2 million.

Had the original levy request been approved, the owner of a $200,000 home could have expected to pay another $484 in property taxes just for District 46.

Now, the increase is expected to be closer to $90, because of the bonds, said Gordon.

Board president Millington admitted he "really struggled" with his decision to vote down the levy request.

Surroz conceded the district hadn't done a good job in looking at staffing and other areas to cut spending. Earlier in the meeting, Surroz stated he personally didn't want to raise taxes but feared for a state takeover like the one Round Lake District 116 found itself in because they "spent themselves into a hole."

Facklam, who voted for the levy as proposed, said she was concerned with the long-term effects of decreasing the levy because "you can never get that money back."

She suggested the board continue to work on more budget cuts and revisit the tax issue in the spring.

"I've heard that for three years," said Carbone.

Business manager Anna Kasprzyk suggested the board could move forward with approving the levy as originally proposed then abate the $750,000 in March.

"I don't trust that," said Smigielski.

Public's plea

During the levy hearing, residents and business owners voiced their frustration over being taxed out, on the verge of losing their homes and their livelihoods.

They've been pleading with the school districts to give them a break.

Just last week, the Grayslake High School District 127 Board voted 4 to 3 to approve a $44.4 million levy, which represents an increase of $1.9 million or 4.53 percent over last year. Board members Ed Brown, Thomas Halloran and Ken Witkowski voted against the increase.

At Wednesday's District 46 meeting, Third Lake resident Susan Stewart said she found it unconscionable that the board would even be considering a tax increase given the struggle of the taxpayers.

"I'm ready to retire now and I can't because of taxes. My property taxes are almost equal to my mortgage payments," she said.

Commercial realtor Larry Dyer, who presented on behalf of Grayslake business owners at board meeting in October, voiced their concerns once again.

Dyer urged the board to "have the courage to take the road less traveled (and vote down the levy) because it was "the right road."

"Bring accountability back," he said.

Business owner Dan Ostick said the community could no longer absorb the increasing tax rates and that another increase would drive more residents and businesses out of Grayslake.

"You folks have to do the hard job and make cuts. Work on it please."

The business owners, which also included Ace Hardware owner Richard Laskowski, vowed to work with the district to find ways to reduce spending and stay within its budget, which still includes a $1.2 million deficit.

"This is one of those times where it is going to take a village," said Smigielski.

D46 Proposes $32.6 Million Tax Levy

Grayslake Business Owners Plead with D46 to Stop Raising Taxes

Tony December 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM
"Board president Millington admitted he "really struggled" with his decision to vote down the levy request." "Surroz conceded the district hadn't done a good job in looking at staffing and other areas to cut spending. Earlier in the meeting, Surroz stated he personally didn't want to raise taxes but feared for a state takeover like the one Round Lake District 116 found itself in because they "spent themselves into a hole." Guess who's up for re-election in 2013? It's all about job security.
William Harms December 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM
What are the bonds for? If they are borrowing money to cover the deficit, wouldn't it be smarter to raise the tax rate and pay cash for expenses rather than put it on a credit card? If the money is for building project, how about refinancing? I thought interest rates are going down.
Terri December 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM
No good deed goes unpunished...
Mike December 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM
God bless the people who showed up and voiced their opinions. Best news I have heard in a while. Please everyone follow this example.
Tony December 20, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Past behavior dictates future performance. This behavior is undoubtedly uncharacteristic of both these redistributors of middle class wealth.
Pete Gardner December 20, 2012 at 03:32 PM
It's a miracle! THANK YOU to those who voted not to increase the levy! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Angela Sykora (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Four residents have filed to run for the school board. See who they are here. http://grayslake.patch.com/articles/who-s-running-for-grayslake-office-in-april-2013
Lennie Jarratt December 20, 2012 at 04:33 PM
The bond repayment schedules were for the building of the schools. These were set at the time the money was borrowed. The issue that will make taxes rise anyway, just not as much now, is that these bonds were backloaded, i.e. higher payments toward the later years. Those payments grow higher in the coming year. The County Clerk has the repayment schedules if you would like to see them. I have them posted as well on EducationMatters.us from when they were issued, the last ones back circa 2005.
Brad Faxton December 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM
edumatters.us? What an extreme right wing biased site.
Terri December 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Thank you Mr Jarratt. Do you know if they can be refinanced to our advantage as someone suggested earlier?
Angela Sykora (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Editor's Note: Hi William. I saw your question and checked with D46 Business Manager Anna Kasprzyk. Here is her response. Hope this helps! "The bonds are for long term debt. They are not to cover the deficit. They have been authorized by referendum for building projects. We have a fixed bond payment schedule, and depending on the types of bonds, they can be 'refinanced.' Callable bonds could be refinanced and unfortunately bonds that CCSD46 has are not callable for another few years."
Terri December 20, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Thank you...something to look forward to.
Tony December 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
http://educationmatters.us/ Interesting stuff. Not at all extreme. Worth a look.
Terri December 20, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Not at all extreme? I guess my link didn't work.
HAL E BERGER December 20, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I congratulate the "5" on the D46 Board members for their courage to hold the line on taxes and spending in this very sad economy. It won't be easy as you go forward. I ask, and perhaps it might be time for the board to ask the striking teachers to go back and re-consider their strike vote. Teachers have a choice and reconsidering the economy it is reasonable to change course. The strike vote can be recinded. With many forclosures and also property tax protests underway due to reduced property values and costs it is clear that the tax base will only get tighter and getting started with tough decisions now can prevent a state takeover of D46 later. Although we can hope for more positive economic times, currently, our country has not focused on the private sector and jobs but on taxation and spending. This is not the case in our homes and for local business operations where every one of us is fighting to keep our family and community positive. Recently we lost Entwined, Mitch's Hot Dogs, The Piggly Wiggly, Pat's Pizza, Last Chance, Country Squire, and many moore from Blockbuster to Quiznos, Etc. These are not good times to argue for more taxes and more spending. Real people were hurt by these closings and real people in our community are still hurting. Rolling back expenses to meet todays reality is not easy but governement bodies & D46 board members can't live in the past and must support their oath pof office to not only the schools but too our community.
Leanna December 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
A very special THANK YOU to those who voted no. I wish a majority of the teachers who are pushing for this levy would come forward so we can see who they are. I wouldn't want my kids being in their classrooms, obviously it is about the money to them. Do these teachers want middle income families to loose their homes and suffer financial burdens so they can get a measly 2% raise? You're off at 4, Why not get a night time job like so many of us are forced to do if things are really that tight? SAD !
HAL E BERGER December 20, 2012 at 08:40 PM
For the those who supported the original tax levy. Thank you for all of your hard work. Eventhough I tried to understand your position I do respect your thoughts, as well as, your commitment toward doing a thankless unpaid voluntary job as a school board member. However, I ask you to please re-consider and look closer at just how much things have changed for our community and all of the people who live in it as well as our children. Times have changed and please you must look further ahead as well in order to keep our community and schools strong. I know the strike is going to get really tough if it occurs, I just hope the teachers re-think this and re-visit these issues when the times are better for everyone. .
HelloKitty December 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Leanna, You are so wrong on every level GET EDUCATED BEFORE YOU SPEAK !! No teacher wants your child in thei classroom either, with your poor attitude !! really you dont think teachers work past 4pm Give me a break !! Take your blinders off !! ~~~aka Parent of the year
Sully December 21, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Maybe you resent teachers because they couldn't teach you how to spell. The same usual crap- teachers are in it for the money. Yep, just a bunch of greedy moochers they are. Certainly of no value. Some things will never change I see.
Tara Strain December 22, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I know there are many who hear/see Lennie & want to cloud his input with political mudslinging. For those who want financial facts, I urge you to look beyond political affiliation, and have an open mind with Lennie's website. He has truly done his research and has sought out the documentation to provide the community with something that most of the alias posters on here do not do...provide possible sustainable solutions. Thank you Lennie for your commitment to this community. (No, I do not personally know Lennie)
Retired December 23, 2012 at 11:54 AM
How could we contact lenny for those that would like to talk to him.
Lennie Jarratt December 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Email me at lennie @ educationmatters.us. Just remember to remove the spaces...


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