Return money to taxpayers, then borrow funds at a set interest rate to fund projects, or keep taxing dist. 211 residents for future needs?
That’s a question that all nine candidates for three- or four-year seats in the Dist. 211 board members are asked. Most believe the district needs to provide some sort of relief to residents immediately.
Challenger Robi Vollkommer said she would be in favor of lowering or maintaining tax increases, especially since the district has had a year of pandemic education with reduced costs but economic hardship for many families who have lost their household incomes or have had it drastically reduced.
She pointed out that sales of vacant properties in Schaumburg will also raise the district over $ 17 million.
Challenger Kristen Steel said she was in favor of keeping the tax hikes on. She explained that administrators are consistently taking the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) limit, which is the consumer price index (CPI) plus new growth that is over budget, and then putting that money into provisions for capital project costs .
She explained that the district does not have to go to a referendum to issue bonds.
“It’s clear why some are pushing for a tax increase,” said Steel. “The district is in a very good financial position, however, and given what taxpayers have been through so far in 2020, it is an unreasonable burden on citizens.”
“I think we can do a better job by being more fiscally responsible and still maintaining our great student experience,” said candidate Jessica Hinkle. “I think the board should challenge itself to do more with less.”
Reviewing some of the previous budgets and her experience of managing budgets, Hinkle said she knows the district can do better for both the students and the communities.
Unlike other candidates, challenger Roxanne Wittkamp believes that if the district is in excellent financial shape, tax money should be used to pay for pandemic-related expenses.
“I currently do not support any changes to the tax levy,” commented Wittkamp.
Challenger Curtis Bradley briefly stated that the school district’s top priority is students and that his efforts will always put students first, but did not say whether he was happy with tax increases or tax cuts for residents.
Denise Wilson, another challenger, said she disagrees with a tax hike for Dist. 211.
“This is not the year to raise taxes,” said Wilson. “The board should have considered the severe financial impact of the pandemic on our community. As a taxpayer, I find it totally unacceptable to raise our property taxes in order to maintain the quality of education offered today. “
Wilson added that Dist. 211 is debt free and currently sells vacant properties in Schaumburg valued at over $ 17 million, but is raising taxes.
“There are numerous problems to be overcome in Illinois; now is not the time to make unnecessary tax hikes just because you can,” she said. “Illinois citizens already pay some of the highest teacher and administrator salaries in the Midwest. Illinois has lost thousands of jobs and unemployment continues to rise. Businesses continue to struggle and most will not recover from lockdowns. People are losing or have lost their trust in the government.
including school authorities. “
The only incumbent, Anna Klimkowicz, stated that Dist. 211 used working cash bonds to fund capital improvements and to keep facilities in excellent condition.
She added that the board had directed the administration to develop a strategy to pay off the debt and reduce over $ 30 million over a 10-year period, lowering the levy and saving money for taxpayers.
“The recommended tax amounts are based on the amount of funds needed to support general operating costs for educational purposes and to support ongoing construction and maintenance costs and transportation,” said Klimkowicz. By adding the Tax Capping Act, the district is restricted to increase the tax amount just by increasing the VPI plus an Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of the new building.
“I can’t speak for the future and I believe that every year there are numerous factors that determine the amount of the levy and that these decisions need to be made with updated information,” she said. “I believe that board members need to be careful in their decisions as the effects not only apply to the current year, but also affect future funding ability.”
Contender Tim Mc Gowan said it was important to keep an eye on future financial planning when considering sticking to the tax limit.
“I would be in favor of lowering or keeping the current tax levy as we recover from the economic impact of the pandemic,” he said. “At the same time, we want to have the money on hand instead of having to borrow money in the future.”
Mc Gowan added that at the end of the day, taxes go to the students’ top priority so no money is wasted.
Candidate Amy Nelson also stated that she would be interested in what future projections would look like, either by lowering the levy or by keeping it at a level rather than “automatically” increasing it every year.
“I firmly believe that we can find ways to be accountable within a lower budget without affecting students,” said Nelson.
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