Latest News Updates
The budget process for the next fiscal year running from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 is underway. As explained below the public hearings for the 2014 budgets for the Barrington Area Library and School District 220 are scheduled for September 9, 2013 and September 17, 2013 respectively.
A taxing body’s budget drives the property tax levy request that will be filed later this year with the relevant counties. The tax levy determines what the property taxes will be for next year.
Appearing at the tax levy public hearing later this year to express concerns about the tax levy is useful in letting a taxing body know of taxpayer concerns but is it really too late. There is a better chance of being heard if communication from taxpayers begins with the public budget hearings. Additional communication from taxpayers at the levy hearings later this fall should also take place.
Set forth below are the timetables for School District 220 and the Barrington Area Library.
School District 220
The 2013-2014 tentative budget is posted on the District 220 website. A public hearing will take place at 8pm on September 17, 2013 at the regular Board of Education meeting at the high school. After the public hearing the Board of Education will be asked to approve the budget which will then be filed with the State Board of Education and other required entities. The approved budget will be posted on the District 220 website. Both the regular board meeting and the public hearing provide opportunities for taxpayers to address the board. Select to view the 2013-2014 tenative budget.
The format for public comment at board meetings generally limits an individual’s comments to three minutes and does not include any time for dialog or “back and forth” discussion with the board or district staff. Therefore, if a taxpayer has questions regarding the budget in order to prepare comments for the meeting or to gain insight on the budget it is advisable to contact the district finance department (and/or the board or the superintendent) directly prior to the meeting. Contact information is on the District 220 website.
In October the Finance Committee will review the tentative tax levy to be presented to the Board of Education at its November 5 meeting. The public hearing for the 2013 tax levy is expected to be held at the November 19 board meeting. The levy adoption is expected to occur at the December 3 board meeting. The meeting schedules are posted on the district website. The Finance Committee meeting schedule is also on the district website. The Finance Committee meetings are public and often include relevant information on budgets and other financial matters.
Barrington Area Library
The public hearing for the tentative budget for the year ending June 30, 2014 will be held on September 9, 2013 at 7 pm in the conference room at the library. The tentative budget is posted on the Barringion Library website as Ordinance 2013-4. Also on the website are monthly financial statements and the annual audit for fiscal year 2011-2012.
In past years at the September meeting the library board has also adopted an ordinance to levy additional property taxes over and above the levy that normally takes place at the November meeting. The additional levy becomes effective unless a specified number of taxpayer signatures are obtained within a specified time frame, forcing the additional levy to be placed on a referendum. Watch for this on the September 9 meeting agenda which should be on the library website on Friday September 6.
District 220 New Teachers’ Contract On Line
Information regarding the new teachers’ contract is now available on the District 220 website. At its meeting on April 2, 2013 the school board approved the “final text” of the contract approved on February 19, 2013 and operative since that date.
The information is available in two forms:
Property Taxes In Illinois
Did you know that:
- Illinois has higher property taxes as a percent of property value than 44 U.S. states, and Lake County, IL property taxes are 17th highest out of 806 U.S. counties examined (highest 2%).
- Illinois now has the worst credit rating of all 50 states with $9.7 billion in unpaid bills and over $200 billion in debt obligations half of which is unfunded pensions.
- The “State Budget Crisis Task Force” led by former Fed chairman Paul Volcker says Illinois has the worst unfunded pension liability of any state, Illinois’ budget is not fiscally sustainable, and infrastructure needs over the next 20-30 years will exceed $300 billion .
- Illinois is near the bottom of U.S. states in most economic measures including economic outlook and the ability to attract business to the state.
- Illinois has lost nearly 130,000 jobs in the last decade and neighboring states are growing due to the flight of jobs and businesses from Illinois.
- To help solve these problems for the state, Governor Quinn has proposed shifting funding responsibility for teachers’ pensions from the state to local school districts, which will further increase your property taxes.
How will these facts affect your future property taxes and your ability to one day sell your home?
Read our white paper: Property Taxes in Illinois.
District 220 Contract Update
On February 19 the District 220 Board approved a new three-year teachers’ contract that had been approved by union members earlier that day. The contract is retroactive to August 31, 2012. The negotiations began in March 2012. Until the contract is available for public review the District website www.barrington220.org includes a press release and a slide presentation regarding the new contract.
Meanwhile the 220 Board approved the 2012 tax levy in November and compensation actions in December 2012:
- The Board approved a 5% property tax levy increase, expecting the maximum allowable of approximately 3.33% to be realized due to the property tax cap limitation.
- The Superintendent’s employment contract was extended for three years beyond the June 2014 termination date of the prior contract. The 6% annual salary raises through June 2014 were retained, salary for the next year will not change and increases for the last two years will be based on the CPI used for the property tax cap.
- Salary increases for the current school year ranging from 2.6% to 5% were given to administrators and exempt/classified employees.
Library Renovation Project Has Grown To $8.5M — Borrowing Likely
The $5.7 million renovation project first announced in January 2012 has grown to $8.5 million. The renovation was to be paid for from accumulated reserves; however at the new cost level borrowing will apparently be necessary. The new cost was approved at the November 12, 2012 Trustees meeting. At monthly Trustee meetings through October there was no mention of increased costs. In fact at one meeting prior to the October 12 approval of a maximum levy increase for 2012 the Trustees had discussed the possibility of a less than maximum tax levy for 2012. An Estimate Summary for the $8.5 million project is posted on the Library website.
Beta expressed concerns regarding the project and the process as detailed in our April 2012 Newsletter (see Beta website www.betaonline.us), periodic postings on our website and e-mail alerts during the past year. We expressed our concerns to the Trustees at meetings and we wrote a letter to the Trustees in July 2012. The Trustees have listened politely, but have not exhibited any intent to change their approach.
We continue to have the following concerns about the project and the process:
- Apparently the public was not involved in the formulation of the project. A project of this magnitude should solicit public input in the formative stage, in this case long before the January 2012 announcement. The assessment of needs using only internal sources omits the input and insight of taxpayers.
- The practice of accumulating reserves and periodically using them for major projects precludes taxpayers from having a say on whether or not a renovation, building acquisition or other major expenditure will be done.
- At least a portion of the accumulated reserves arose from an additional levy that has been assessed annually for a number of years. The annual audited financial statements for recent years did not include explanation of the magnitude of the reserves nor the reason for the existence of the reserves.
- In the absence of a publicly disclosed justification and plans for future need of any reserves the practice of reserve building should cease.
- Taxpayers should have timely input on major expenditures prior to any commitment by the Library, preferably in the form of a referendum.
Transparency needs significant improvement. The Library does not put financial statements (annual audited or monthly internal) on its website. Meeting agendas are removed from the website once the minutes are posted. As a result, the public website does not contain the information necessary to know the financial status of the Library and the ability to review past meeting agendas is very brief.