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

Village, school boards prepping to file requests for property tax revenue next month

Hinsdale taxing bodies are poised to approve their levies — or annual requests for property tax revenue — at meetings next month.

These levy requests will then be submitted to the clerks in DuPage and Cook counties, who will translate them into tax rates that will appear on homeowners’ bills in 2024.

Charts breaking down each of the levies, an explanation of the taxing cycle and a glossary appear on Page 7.

Village of Hinsdale

The Hinsdale Village Board plans to file a total 2023 property tax levy of $8.7 million, up 5.7 percent from last year.

The increase includes the 5 percent stipulated by the tax cap plus a $719,900 allotment for new growth as allowed under the cap.

Inflation was actually at 6.5 percent at the end of 2022, exceeding the ceiling set by the tax cap, Trustee Matt Posthuma noted in a levy discussion at the Nov. 7 Hinsdale Village Board meeting.

The village also is responsible for filing the levy for the Hinsdale Public Library. With the library levy, the total levy is almost $12.4 million, an increase of about 5.7 percent.

Because the increase is more than 5 percent, the village is required by law to hold a public hearing on the levy. That will take place at the village board’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, at the Memorial Building, 19 E. Chicago Ave. Formal adoption of the levy would be on the board’s agenda at its Tuesday, Dec. 12 meeting.

The village is following past practice in setting the levy, Trustee Luke Stifflear observed.

“Consistent with past years, we’re levying the maximum that we can,” he said. “Inconsistent with past years, it’s going to be less than CPI.”

Hinsdale Public Library

The library’s levy request of $3.67 million will be added into the village levy, as the library is not its own taxing district.

The request is 5.5 percent higher than last year, taking into account the 5 percent cap plus an amount for new growth. In 2022 the library board decided to levy less than it could have, but that thinking changed this year, Executive Director Karen Keefe said.

“We have engaged an architect to work with us on a space audit, and we want to add more to our capital reserves to be able to act on some of the suggestions that we are expecting to come from that,” Keefe said. “We’re really hoping they can give us some ideas of how to make the building more flexible.”

Events like the “After Dark” series are fun to host but time-intensive when it comes to rearranging space, Keefe said. An architect will help officials make sure they have an overall vision for any changes they make.

“We want them to look at all of the options and help us come up with the best way to orient and arrange things within the building,” she said.

The decision to engage an architect was based on feedback from the strategic plan, which was completed at the end of 2022.

The library levy will be part of the village’s public hearing next week.

District 181

The Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 Board Monday approved a resolution to adopt a 2023 property tax levy of $76.7 million for operating funds.

That represents a 5.5 percent increase over last year’s tax extension of $72.2 million. Including debt service, which is exempt from the state’s tax cap law, the district will ask for $80.1 million, 6 percent above last year’s extension.

“We think we’ll be entitled to a 5.6 percent increase, and we’re asking for slightly higher than that at 6 percent,” Mindy Bradford, assistant superintendent for business and operations, told board members, noting that the county ultimately determines the amount of taxes received.

Bradford said property taxes comprise nearly all of a district’s financial resources.

“In this district, the operating levy is 89 percent of our operating revenue, so a very significant source of revenue,” she related.

As part of the board’s strategy to maintain fund balances between 30 and 50 percent of operating revenue, the levy assumes a $2 million abatement, or give-back, which would be finalized in March. Bradford this approach would save the owner of a $500,000 home $109 on taxes while protecting the district’s ability to collect all the revenue the tax cap allows in the years ahead.

“(Using an abatement) gives a lot more flexibility to both the current board and future boards, because you’ve got that ability to turn on or off the abatement,” she explained

A public hearing on the levy will held at the Dec. 18 board meeting, with subsequent adoption expected in order to file it by the Dec. 26 deadline.

District 86

The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board at tonight’s regular meeting is slated to approve a 2023 property tax levy of $100.3 million for capped funds and $112.4 million when debt service is included.

In his levy presentation Oct. 26, Josh Stephenson, the district’s chief financial officer, told board members that although the Consumer Price Index for 2022 was set at 6.5 percent, the district is limited by the state’s Property Tax Extension Law Limit to an increase of 5 percent, plus an amount for new construction.

“The last two years CPI has exceeded 5 percent, but because we are in a tax cap district, we cannot ask for more than 5 percent,” Stephenson stated.

Board member Jeff Waters pointed out that because of contracts with teachers and other staff, the district needs to levy enough revenue to cover those significant costs.

“The ask for 5 percent is, to a very large extent, somewhat required when staffing accounts for 75 percent of our budget,” Waters said.

Stephenson concurred that staff contract increases and purchased services are typically closely tied to CPI. Asked how much of a difference zero-based budgeting makes on the levy amount, Stephenson said any savings is negligible.

“They’re not going to make a large enough difference to say we only need to levy 3 percent versus 5 percent because there’s not that much discretionary spending,” he said.

A public hearing on the levy will be held at the Dec. 21 board meeting, with subsequent adoption expected.