December time for fa-la-la-la-la levies

Four local taxing bodies approving requests to receive property tax revenues in 2022

December is a month for caroling, baking cookies — and approving tax levies.

This week, Hinsdale’s village and school boards are approving their tax levies, or annual requests for property tax revenue.

These levy requests will be submitted to the clerks in Cook and DuPage counties, who will translate them into the tax rates (see related coverage on Page 7) that will appear on homeowners’ bills in 2022.

Village of Hinsdale

The village’s 2021 tax levy of almost $14.3 million is a considerably larger amount than officials hope to receive in tax revenue next year.

In addition to approving the levy at their meeting Tuesday night, trustees also approved six resolutions to abate, or not collect, taxes. The abatements are for bond issues ranging from $2 million to $20 million dating from 2014 to 2021 that will be paid off with other revenue sources. Funds were borrowed for a variety of purposes, from library renovations to accelerating work in the master infrastructure plan. Unless the village board votes to abate the taxes, the repayment amounts are automatically included in the levy.

The abatements drop the total levy to $11.1 million, with $10.8 million subject to the tax cap (see Page 7).

Village President Tom Cauley reported Nov. 16 that bonds issued 10 years ago to pay for part of the Woodlands drainage improvement project will be paid off this year, in part with $112,000 from an excess fund balance. The 161 affected homeowners will see an average drop of $700 on their tax bills.

Hinsdale Public Library

Because the Hinsdale Public Library is not its own taxing district, its $3.34 million levy is included in the total levy request the village submits.

The library’s request includes the better part of $60,000 to formulate a new strategic plan and $70,000 to implement it, said Executive Director Karen Keefe. The library board originally expected to work on the plan last year but put it off due to COVID-19 disruptions.

“We’re really eager to see how COVID has impacted the needs of our residents,” Keefe said. “If people are going to be working from home permanently and indefinitely, what does that do to audio book circulation because people aren’t community any more?”

The library might need to buy more books on home renovation or tech training with people working form home or consider doing more programs outdoors.

The strategic plan will help library leaders answer one key question.

“What has changed for people and how can we respond and meet those needs?” she said.

District 181

Community Consolidated District 181 Board members adopted a $69 million 2021 property tax levy Monday to fund more than 90 percent of the operating budget.

In his board report, Richard Engstrom, assistant superintendent of business and operations, outlined that the “balloon” levy request is designed to ensure all available revenue under the tax cap is collected. He projected that the district would receive $67.9 million, or about 1.4 percent more than the 2020 extension.

When debt service is included, the levy totals $72.1 million. New construction is estimated to be $27.6 million, and the preliminary abatement is $6.1 million.

There were no comments during a public hearing on the matter and no board discussion, as members had tentatively signed off on the levy Nov. 15. At that meeting, Engstrom apprised the board that he will present fund balance projections in February to determine the appropriate amount of taxes to abate.

“Anything above 50 percent (of six months of district expenditures), according to our fund balance strategy, we will make adjustments for our abatement amount,” he said.

District 86

Hinsdale High School District 86 Board members are expected to officially approve their levy when they meet tonight, Dec. 16.

Last month they approved a tentative request for operating funds that shows a 2.2 percent increase over 2020, compared to a 3 percent increase the previous year.

A lower CPI — 1.4 compared to 2.3 percent — and a slightly lower estimate for new construction are driving the lower levy amount, according to Josh Stephenson, chief financial officer.

The total levy includes almost $12.2 million for debt repayment next year. Almost $10 million is related to the facilities improvement referendum voters approved in April 2019. The final set of bonds for the $140 million projects were issued in November 2020.

“Now that the referendum bonds were fully on last year, those are going to be pretty level year over year,” Stephenson said.