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Assessment down, taxes still up

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Got your property tax bill yet? Bob Fischer, vice president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation has. He goes over his in this week's column. Did your assessment go down or up? Were you expecting a reduction on your bill? Or were you resolved to the fact that higher rates were inevitable? Did you break even compared to last year or get soaked?

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49 Comments

"Is anyone else struck by the absurdity of Thom creating a website, than using his own website as a reference for his opinions????"

Speaks volumes about CHARACTER, HONESTY, INTEGRITY, and CREDIBILITY doesn't it?

more later but....

Would our favorite Ast. Supt. For Finance agree with your long, strongly held contention that the Districts decision to use cash reserves, in order to avoid bonding, thus savings the interest expense, results in zero savings?

Yes! that's the whole point...when seen from the viewpoint of the taxpayer.

Absolutely.

"Wouldn't call it a savings" means...well, wouldn't call it a savings.
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Maybe I can tie it all together...say I could invest my money like the TRS does -- getting 8.5% return...d'in'cha say? Would I want my money there or tied up prepaying a theoretically larger 4% loan for which you and Mrs. Crottty claim the sum of all interest payments as savings?

The district has different time horizons for its investments/cash balance than we, the taxpayers, do. Thus what seems like savings from the district side (apparently your only possible viewpoint for whatever reason) is an excess cost from the taxpayer side.

I am serious. Are you really this incapable of understanding basic maths and money concepts?

Just like those mortgages I wrote about...

-1

Is anyone else struck by the absurdity of Thom creating a website, than using his own website as a reference for his opinions????

Thom,

You wrote: "I am entirely confident that the open minded reader appreciates the fairness and accuracy of my comments." Didn't your mother teach you to be careful before patting yourself on the back? The inaccuracies of your comments have been pointed out by other posters on this and many other threads. I doubt any truly open minded reader shares your confidence.

As to your second paragraph, it isn't my job to educate you. I've dangled the carrot of knowledge, now go educate yourself if you don't fully comprehend the school financing method.

You wrote: "Perhaps it is clearer if I state: over 20 years, the average of D203 spending has equaled the average of the state spending." Now you've gone and flip flopped again. Now you want to talk about a 20 year average compared to a 20 year average. See, the problem about averages without looking at all of the details is that 203 could have been over the state average for 19 of these years and under for 1 and still averaged out over 20 years. You like to play games with numbers and we can all play the same or better games until we are all blue in the face, but all these games do is attempt to distort the truth. Despite all of this, the fact remains that 203, due to many favorable factors, should be setting the gold standard statewide on spending. 203 should be consistently coming in significantly under the state average year after year. If 203 isn't consistently coming in significantly under the state average it means that those entrusted with delivering fiscal responsibility are not doing an effective and competent job and should be terminated, forcibly if necessary. It is a competitive job market out there and if the current employees can't or won't produce there are dozens of more qualified people who are willing to do what it takes to get the job done and most of them would be glad to do the job for less than the current staff is being paid. It simply doesn't make good business sense to continue to pay these people more or more money and allow them to get by with unacceptable performance.

You wrote: ”Our analysis indicates the average per student operating expense of the seven other districts is $4,150 per year, or 37%, more than District 203's $11,219 - which is only $22 more than the state average. The average for the five school districts that achieved higher ACT scores is even more; $4,305”." Once and for all times please truthfully define for everyone on Potluck each person, by name, that would be included in your use of the word "our" as used in the first word of this quotation.

Anonymous:

I am entirely confident that the open minded reader appreciates the fairness and accuracy of my comments.

As to your first paragraph, I was explaining why a poster was making an erroneous assumption. I did not set out to write a complete treatise on property taxes as it relates to public education. My comments served to help rectify that specific misunderstanding. I would be interested in you outlining the “…other factors that affect how much is or is not paid to districts that you mention and how it is relevant to that discussion.

As part of my comments, I did offer the broader statement regarding D203’s fiscal responsibility that you take exception to in your second paragraph. If you give it some thought you will certainly work out how D203 could spend at the state average (actually it’s just under the state average) for 20 years and yet be $22. over in the latest reporting year. Perhaps it is clearer if I state: over 20 years, the average of D203 spending has equaled the average of the state spending.

As to thinking that spending $22 over the state average is somehow illustrative of fiscal recklessness, I will once again offer the following from QE203.org’s What is the Best Educational Value in Chicagoland?
”Our analysis indicates the average per student operating expense of the seven other districts is $4,150 per year, or 37%, more than District 203's $11,219 - which is only $22 more than the state average. The average for the five school districts that achieved higher ACT scores is even more; $4,305”.

Think about this: there are only 5 school districts in the Chicagoland area whose students achieve higher ACT scores than D203 students. They spend an average of $4,305. more doing it. There is not a school district in the Chicagoland area whose students achieve the same or better ACT score as D203 students, yet the district spends less than 203. There are many, many, socioeconomically comparable districts that spend more than 203, but their students don’t achieve the same ACT scores as D203 students; Barrington, Elmhurst, St. Charles, Geneva, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Lisle, to name a few. You’re concerned about $22? How about Lisle 202? They spent $5500 over the state average for the same period.

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For -1:

Could the taxpayer have done something different with the money?

No. Paying your taxes is not optional.


If you move before 15 years did you overpay?

Does the person buying your house then underpay? Should you ask them for the difference?


Does the Citizen Advisory Committee look at all the options and recommend what they consider the best course of action?

Yes, I’m sure they do. As does the District Administration and BOE.


Would our favorite Ast. Supt. For Finance agree with your long, strongly held contention that the Districts decision to use cash reserves, in order to avoid bonding, thus savings the interest expense, results in zero savings?

Not a chance.


Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Bragging that SD 203 spends at the state average is a financial joke!

203 is one of the largest districts in the state. As such, the most basic of economic rules states that 203 should, by definition and due to the economies of scale, should ALWAYS be below the state average.

When you combine this with the FACT that 203 has gone from speeding below the state average to spending over the state average, you have an emerging poster child for financial simpleness. Yet, we continue to listen to folks who can only cry as to the beauty of the deity known as 203 (thom higgins) and allow th eTeachers' Union to dictate who is electedtoour School Board (conflicts of interest bedamned!)

Thom,

Maybe you should go back and read your own comments about state funding and then correct all of the omissions in the process that you failed to mention. The resource equalizer that is used to determine how much of the foundation money will be paid to districts is but one part of the state funding process. There are quite a few other factors that affect how much is or is not paid to districts. Interesting that you failed to mention these other factors, yet typical given your past history of only writing about what you want people to know instead of telling them the entire truth.

First you stated: "I’ll also mention that both Naperville school districts are quite frugal compared to their peers. 203 has over 20 years spent at the state average." Then you contradicted yourself to state: "Please note the numbers on the D203 report card. D203, for the latest reporting year, is $22. over the state average." Simply stated a school district can be at the state average and above it at the same time. If SD 203 got it's spending in order to the tune of being equal to the state average it would save SD203 taxpayers $400,000 per year. If SD203 spent $33 below the state average it would save SD203 taxpayers $1,000,000 per year. Imagine that $22 here, $33 there and soon enough the next thing you know we could actually be talking serious money. The fundamental problem is SD203 is not driven by sound financial management philosophies that maximize the responsible use of limited resources; instead it is driven very simply by a tax and spend philosophy that believes the taxpayer has bottomless pockets to be picked without limit or accountability.

Regardless, we all still need to look at the "big picture" and the big picture looks at statewide averages, all things considered, which is what I have done. And the big picture says things simply are not as rosy in 203 in terms of financial responsibility or performance as you would like others to believe.

Some might be fooled by your continued attempt to manipulate statistics or to cherry pick reported numbers to serve your personal agenda, but mostly you are only fooling yourself.

bump

agree with Higgins since Since fed and state contributions are relative constants.. is a very very flawed statement. If that premise were true, then your analysis might make sense. But it is not true.
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Mr. Higgins, could we, the taxpayer, have done something different with the over-collected money instead of having it sit in D203s pocket for that time? Dare I say yes. And if I move before 15 years, did I overpay? Dare I say yes. And does D203 finance advisory group think about relative investment options? Dare I say yes. Is that perhaps why Mr. Zager said "I wouldn't call it a savings?" when referring to Susan Crotty's claim that she saved taxpayers $XM (a claim which you fully supported in these blogs) by spending our over-collection on capital improvement and thereby avoiding $XM in interest payments? Dare I say yes.

-1


Uncommon Sense:

Here’s where you go wrong: ” What that simply means is that any Illinois school district, including SD 203 or 204, collects a proportionate amount of their budget from the state, the fed, and local property taxes” and “Since fed and state contributions are relative constants the only real variable from district to district is the local property tax base”.

Please go back and re-read my comments about the three funding levels for state aid. Additionally, you can see the variance in all aid percentages by looking at D203 and, as an extreme example, Posen-Robbins ESD143-5 in the ISBE Report Cards Compare the percentages property taxes makes up of the total budget and yet the operational spending per pupil is far, far, closer than those percentages. Please note the numbers on the D203 report card. D203, for the latest reporting year, is $22. over the state average.

There are other issues with your comments but I've not the time to go into them.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Thom,

We are comparing apples to apples. Sorry if you either can't follow the discussion, can't understand it, or can't comprehend it. These numbers are actually pretty easy for anyone to get their head around.

Nationally the average is 8% of school funding comes from the feds, 48% from the state, and 44% from local (i.e property tax), numbers rounded off. In Illinois the state only kicks in 34% and the fed still kicks in their 8% which leaves the local property tax to pick up the remaining 58%, again numbers rounded off. We can leave the 14% gap in Illinois state funding from what is average in other states for another time.

What that simply means is that any Illinois school district, including SD 203 or 204, collects a proportionate amount of their budget from the state, the fed, and local property taxes.

In a nutshell, in Illinois the average portion of the school district budget funded by local property taxes is 58%, in SD 203 it is more like 72% according to your own numbers. That means SD 203 is at least 10% and maybe as high as 14% above the state average.

Since fed and state contributions are relative constants the only real variable from district to district is the local property tax base. With 56% of SD203 budget being at least 10% and maybe as much as 14% above state average for local property taxes that means the entire SD 203 budget is at least 5.6% and maybe as much as 7.8% above the state average.

It is mathematically impossible to claim SD 203 spends at the state average.

Anonymous:

As the old saying goes, you are comparing "Apples with Oranges".

Briefly, property taxes are only one source of education funding, the state and federal government also contribute, so you can't infer as you did.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Thom,

Your numbers don't add up. Not even close.

You previously stated: "I’ll also mention that both Naperville school districts are quite frugal compared to their peers. 203 has over 20 years spent at the state average.

According to you, 62% of property taxes go to local schools as the state average. I've seen a lower number of 58% reported by the state. Regardless, you claim SD203 collects 72%. Notwithstanding the fact that 72% of local taxes adds up to one heck of a lot more money than 62% of property taxes that would be paid somewhere downstate there is simply no factual way you can claim a school district can collect 10% to 14% more than the state average on a much higher base of assessed values and only spend at the state average, much less claim it has done so for 20 years running.

Uncommon Sense:

The latest percentage I saw was, statewide, on average, 62% of local property tax revenue goes to school districts for education. Here in Naperville for 203 it’s more like 72% (that’s what Naperville Township has listed in their example for the 2007 tax bill). The comparable example for 204 was 60%.

Why is there a difference in the percentages between 203 and 204? It is because Illinois has a three level funding framework based on the total EAV for all properties in the school district’s boundaries. The highest level of state funding for public ed (and thus a lower level of local funding through property taxes) is the Foundation level. 204 is at that level. 203 has a higher total EAV and is in the Alternative Funding level. 203 gets less money from the state and more from local property taxes. The last level is the flat grant level for very affluent communities and they get a minimal flat payment from the state.

-1:
Not to quibble too much but Mr. Fishers statement was ”Their percentage hike, thanks to the abatement in the bond fund, remained well under 2 percent.”

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Anonymous,

Your are correct.

In Illinois about $18 billion is collected every year in property taxes. Statewide average is 58% of property taxes goes to local schools, excluding community colleges. Check your own tax bill and see if you are giving your local school district 58% of your total tax bill. Or is it more? If it's more than the statewide average, ask them why they need more.

Out of the $18 billion that is paid in property taxes over 55% of it comes from residential property. Commercial pays about 28% and industrial pays over 12%. The remaining comes from farms, railroads, and a few other obscure categories.

The property tax laws for the other 45% of properties, i.e non-residential, have all kinds of loopholes where property taxes can be reduced, frozen, abated, etc. in a variety of situations not extended to residential properties.

Whenever a business tries to duck out from paying their fair share of property taxes and when the taxing body approves it then, yes, all of the other property tax payers will end up each paying proportionately more in property tax. Remember the PTELL limits the amount of increase on the total levy. PTELL does not guarantee that any individual property tax bill will be limited to a similar increase. That is just one of the reasons more and more studies have concluded that both tax abatements and TIF's are not a good deal for schools or communities.

The bottom line is that tax abatements and TIF's take away more, a lot more actually, than they give back otherwise the business community would not be so eager to pursue these kinds of breaks and incentives. Just another example of the rich getting richer while the little guy gets forced to pay for the rich guys social obligation.

It's also interesting to note the same businesses that cry poor and claim to need these tax breaks and incentives always seem to have plenty of cash lying around when it come time to stuff the campaign chest of the politicians who will vote to approve tax abatements and TIF's...

So...the key here is to check your tax bill.

See what each taxing district claimed their levy would increase percentage wise and compare it to your tax bill.

In the article above from someone at the NAHC, he was happy that his school bill went up about 2%. He might have gotten screwed. Weren't we promised 1.1%?

If you went up more than promised, your property, for whatever reason, is assessed relatively higher than other properties were last the the taxing body reached into your wallet.

That could be because your property held value better than others, it could be because your property gained more value than others, it could be because your property lost less value than others, it could be that businesses are getting tax breaks making the homeowner portion of the EAV higher.

It would be nice if someone could look at each of the taxing districts and show how businesses fared compared to homeowners.

As I have posted before, additional new property which does not increase needed service to a taxing district should be used for tax relief, not for collecting additional funds.

-1

Thom,

News flash... just because -1 agrees with you doesn't make either of you correct. Great to see you are standing by your previous comments. Better to be dead wrong than just wrong or worse yet to flip flop like you have been known to do in the past.

As further evidence of your lack of understanding of the taxing process I point out this gem that you have now repeated: "Therefore, you cannot have a scenario where a taxing body votes to increase a tax rate and... " Someone with your experience should know full well taxing bodies do not vote to increase the tax rate and never have. Taxing bodies vote to approve a budget and to certify the levy. It is the duty of the county clerk to calculate tax rates and to ensure the levy certified by the taxing body does not exceed any of the allowable percentage rate caps on various funds as provided by state statute.

Lastly, since our taxes consistently go up, year after year, this results in a net economic gain for the school district every year. This is not a "zero sum game" because all of the participants, most notably the school district, do not share equally in the ability to gain or lose. What this is in economic theory is a non-zero-sum game. In reality though and in consideration of how much money is involved with each property owner and the tax they pay this is hardly a game.

So, if a community decides to give large tax breaks for real estate to a business, the remaining TOTAL gets distributed over the remaining payers, meaning our homes can increase way over 5% or inflation at any given time.

Combine this with the idea that our taxes are still going UP as our home prices/values plummet, then it is an easy leapt say the game is rigged and our politicians are screwing us on a regular basis.

There are PLENTY of good reasons to disagree with Mr. Higgins.

Plenty.

His recent post on property taxes is not one of them, except when he started to editorialize.

-1

Uncommon Sense.

I stand by my prior comments reproduced here:

”The taxing bodies do not levy a tax rate. Your tax rate is the product of the following calculation:”

Previous years levy + CPI (limited to a max of 5%) divided by the total assessed valuation of all properties in the taxing jurisdiction. Therefore, you cannot have a scenario where a taxing body votes to increase a tax rate and coupled with increased assessed values, levies a percentage increase that is larger than inflation. It doesn’t work that way.

Or, simply, our taxes in aggregate can’t increase more than CPI (inflation), irrespective of what home values do.

If you look at -1’s comments you will see they are in harmony with mine.


I’m sorry, but your comments below are, simply, incorrect:

”And you are right that when and if home values start to rebound we will get caught in the triple vise of assessed value, tax rate, and the maximum increase allowed by law.”

”When property values begin to rise again we will end up paying even more taxes”

”On top of this there are the allowances permitted for home rule communities and PTELL (not PTEL) for school districts in the collar counties.”

"- surprise, surprise but there actually is no 5% limit on now much a taxing district in Illinois can raise their levy from year to year"

”it is entirely incorrect to state school districts are "limited to revenue increases based on CPI and any new construction". School districts are limited to increasing their levy for operating expense based upon the lessor of CPI or 5%, period.”

Lastly, with regards to your “third” comment: The percentage increase for your own property taxes can vary slightly from any given years percentage increase, but remember, it’s a zero sum game. The taxing body is limited in the percentage increase they can levy across the total extension. If your property taxes go up a greater percentage, then others have to go down or increase at a lower percentage as well to compensate. For a property owner to have a meaningful variance without some reason i.e. major remodeling or addition, is highly unlikely.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org


Once again Higgins is posting more jibberish, falsehoods, and even contradicting himself in the same post. Maybe once in a while he would at least try to get his facts straight before he starts beating on a keyboard or at least proof read and fact check what he has written before he hits "submit". If anyone, Higgins definitely needs to read a few more primers from people who know what in the heck they are talking about before he will be anywhere even close to writing one of his own.

First - for all practical purposes the tax rate and tax levy go hand-in-hand because the the second step in the annual taxing process is for the state to certify the assessed values of properties. The fourth step in the process is for each taxing district to certify their levy. Unless the financial people in each taxing district are completely stupid they will know the derived tax rate for their district because they have access to the assessed valuation while they are developing their own budget.

Second - surprise, surprise but there actually is no 5% limit on now much a taxing district in Illinois can raise their levy from year to year. Anyone who still believes this myth needs to educate themselves, Higgins included, on current Illinois tax law. On top of this there are the allowances permitted for home rule communities and PTELL (not PTEL) for school districts in the collar counties. However, PTELL limits the maximum increase of a school district property tax extension to the LOWER of either the CPI or 5%. It is important to note that the PTELL does not guarantee than an individual tax bill will not increase more than the limitation. Case in point for individual comparisons... in 2008 the CPI was 0.1%, for 2009 it was 2.7%, and for 2010 it was 1.5%. The important point about PTELL is that Illinois law does not REQUIRE a taxing body to increase their levy by the maximum permitted. In fact, taxing bodies could choose not to raise taxes or raise taxes by a lower amount than is permitted. A strong argument can be made that taxing bodies that do not raise their levy or who raise their levy by less than is permitted are being financially responsible and conservative (or even frugal) with taxpayer dollars.

Third, "our taxes in aggregate can’t increase more than CPI (inflation)". A very misleading statement because "in aggregate" doesn't adequately allow for market fluctuations for certain individual properties or even certain sectors of the local market that can actually see far greater increases in their actual taxes than the limitation posed by the lessor of CPI or 5%.

Fourth, "As to always asking for the maximum rate (which again to remind you is the inflation rate)... " Completely incorrect and false. The rate of inflation (CPI) could be either above or below 5%. If the CPI is above 5% the maximum increase that can be levied is 5%. If the CPI is below 5% the maximum rate that can be levied is the CPI. To infer the maximum rate equals the inflation rate is simply incorrect.

Fifth, it is entirely incorrect to state school districts are "limited to revenue increases based on CPI and any new construction". School districts are limited to increasing their levy for operating expense based upon the lessor of CPI or 5%, period. Money associated with new construction simply isn't part of the equation to increase this levy. Increases associated with new construction are an another discussion altogether.

Sixth, a school district that is spending at the state average for 20 years like SD 203 has been is certainly NOT being frugal. Being average for 20 years is being average for 20 years, nothing more, nothing less. To even attempt to call average spending frugal is at best silly and at worst dumb. A school district that came in significantly under the state average for 20 years in a row might be considered frugal, though how much under average is needed to really be considered frugal hasn't been defined.

Sometimes even when Thom attempts to put lipstick on the pig the pig is still insistent on licking its own butt and ends up getting lipstick smeared all over the place which is about the best explanation for most of what Thom has written. There is lots more to rebut than just what is stated above but when the Peter Principle applies, as is the case here, there is a point at which further whipping of a dead horse simply isn't good sport.

Thanks for the primer.

I was always under the incorrect belief that the valve on tax increases (PTEL) applied to the rate,not the overall tax bill.

It is good to know. However, my warning is still partially accurate in that as our house vales rise, we will still be eligible for increases in tax that can at least hit 5%, yet during all of our vaue drops they still increased!

I am all for holding the D203 board to spending sanity. I will try to post my salary analysis later today (but moderator-- I think the system is not allowing me to post it) . However, we must speak on reasonable terms and not mislead.

Briefly

tax rate = (levy)/EAV

The levy can increase by at most CPI*

EAV is total property value

Since the levy can increase by at most CPI, if EAV increases by more than CPI, the tax rate goes down. (this is ignoring new construction). Your tax bill from D203 should increase approximately by CPI each year since that's the most they can take and take they do. Some years it will be more some less due to relative assessments throughout the taxing district. (Also ignoring the 2008 facilities referendum which will cause some wobble as it is levied some years and not others.)

The problem with the 2002 referendum implementation is what was added to the rate was dissociated from the above calculation. Because EAV was increasing so rapidly, the add-in caused more money to be collected than was advertized. This is not up for dispute. This is what the maths support.

-1

Doctor 3 & Uncommon Sense:

A quick primer on property taxes for Govt. entities covered by the tax cap (PTEL) law. This applies to school districts but not the City of Naperville that can raise taxes at will.

The taxing bodies do not levy a tax rate. Your tax rate is the product of the following calculation:

Previous years levy + CPI (limited to a max of 5%) divided by the total assessed valuation of all properties in the taxing jurisdiction. Therefore, you cannot have a scenario where a taxing body votes to increase a tax rate and coupled with increased assessed values, levies a percentage increase that is larger than inflation. It doesn’t work that way.

Or, simply, our taxes in aggregate can’t increase more than CPI (inflation), irrespective of what home values do. For example, the tax rate for D203 was 4.3636 in 2003 and fell steadily through 2009 to 3.8882. The rate fell, but revenues still increased by CPI due to the increase in assessed valuations. For this year the rate increased due to falling valuations and to capture the CPI increase.

For simplicity’s sake I’ve ignored the facilities debt service levy in the above and the impact of new construction.

-1 referenced the 2002 referendum where we voted in an increase in the tax rate and the assessed valuation climbed higher than expected yielding higher taxes and more revenue than projected. That only occurred because we approved the referendum. I suspect our friend -1 will have some further comments for you here.

A few other thoughts:

As to always asking for the maximum rate (which again to remind you is the inflation rate), the problem with the PTEL law is if you do not levy the full CPI increase in any given year, it’s lost forever. Now, D203 has in two of the last three years abated the debt service levy, forgoing about $6 million as a way to minimize taxes. Depending on what the future brings, officials have stated they will look to abate the DSL whenever possible in the coming years. Regardless, one of the problems school districts face is they are limited to revenue increases based on CPI and any new construction, but wage growth (ECI) for all workers not just teachers, has historically increased more than CPI.

I’ll also mention that both Naperville school districts are quite frugal compared to their peers. 203 has over 20 years spent at the state average. D204 (forgetting their large debt service) has spent less than the state average. You can compare both district to the top districts in Illinois here: What is the best Educational Value in Chicagoland ?

Thom Higgins

QE203.org


-1,

There is no guarantee the tax rate will decrease under any given hypothetical situation. Tax rates could just as easily remain constant or even increase.

The school board is on record saying they will continue to take the maximum increase allowed by law which, if property values remain flat, will still have each of paying more no matter what year after year.

When property values begin to rise again we will end up paying even more taxes... unless the tax rate is adjusted downward and I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen among the current board members or based upon the info fed to them by the current administrators.

The school board has consistently demonstrated a lack of willingness to be fiscally conservative and for all practical purposes has an insatiable appetite for burning through taxpayer money.

Please explain as the SD is allowed the lower of cpimor 5%, correct?

And you are right that when and if home values start to rebound we will get caught in the triple vise of assessed value, tax rate, and the maximum increase allowed by law.

I predict in advance that I will actually agree with Thom Higgins if he chooses to explain the property tax rate correctly. What you described (property values increasing faster than expected) is the reason behind the ongoing over-collection of taxes from the 2002 referendum when we allowed an increase in the tax rate. However, that is not what will happen now as property values rise.

If the housing value (total EAV) rebounds higher than CPI in a given year, the tax rate will go down.* I choose rational discussions.

-1

*excluding the yearly variation of whether or not the debt service levy in D203 is collected

Doctor

You are spot on and singing to the choir. Unfortunately there are so, so many people in Naperville that have more money than brains and they let the school board get away with all kinds of mismanagement instead of throwing the bums out of office.

Until that starts to happen and until we start sacking school administrators who are not more fiscally conservative nothing much is going to change in terms of our property tax bill.

And you are right that when and if home values start to rebound we will get caught in the triple vise of assessed value, tax rate, and the maximum increase allowed by law.

If you all want an exercise in scary futility and frustration, calculate out your future property taxes using the newest rates but applying them to a hopefully future increased home value.

Remember, there isno school district (especially our spendy ones!) that are going to approve a negative increase (ie a decrease) totheir rate. In fact, as203 has been quoted often, they always ask for the highest allowed by law!

So, just apply the newest rates toyour home value of, say, 3 years ago Then, add maximum increases for the next 3 years (as I said, they will always ask for the max).

The result will beavery scary,very disappointing number.

Senseless,

I thought we were talking about Police Department services and staffing. Now, you're attacking the business mix of downtown Naperville and the Riverwalk?

I really don't care what you think of Naperville's downtown. I live here and like it. I like Wheaton too, for different reasons. My point about the downtown and Riverwalk is that it sucks resources from the Naperville PD. I don't think it has to, to the degree that the PD wants and the City Council approves.

Naperville should have less cops, but it needs to be based on data, and understanding the service mix of each department is important.

La Kook,

Well, while you are chewing on something (and since you seem prone to wild speculation and making assumptions without substance or fact) then chew on the possibility that Wheaton PD is also overstaffed and provides even more services than Naperville PD.

For it's size, in comparison to Naperville, Wheaton actually has a larger downtown and a better mix of food and retail.

As for having or not having a "riverwalk"... let's face it if you are anything other than San Antonio you are in the wannabee category, including Naperville. Our poor excuse for a "riverwalk" may give some people warm, fuzzy feelings but for the most part the riverwalk doesn't draw large out-of-town crowds like the bars and restaurants, was poorly designed, built, and maintained, and has been a constant money pit. Notwithstanding that the DuPage is a pretty lame excuse for a "river".

So Naperville dressed the pig up and put lipstick on it and advertised and marketed it until gosh everyone started believing it actually was something... heck if we didn't have that to advertise and market what would city hall and the chamber of commerce yap about... the bell tower... the children's museum...? All money pits that resulted from small minds with grandiose ideas and no way to make them financially viable except at the taxpayers expense.

Uncommon Nonsense,

You obvously didn't read or understand my post. Or, you just wanted to say what you said despite what I wrote. Try reading it again. I can't respond to things I didn't say.

If I do understand your basic premise, Wheaton is a better town with less crime than Naperville, and runs a tighter ship as far as the Police Department is concerned. Then live there (or work for the Wheaton PD?), which I assume you do.

I don't think Wheaton is a bad town at all, just way different in terms of size and possibly services offered. The downtowns and Riverwalk make them dificult to compare. And no, I'm not going to call both towns to do an analysis of what each does. I really don't have time for that. It's something to chew on as I said.

La Kook,

If you think the numbers are statistically invalid then take it up with the Illinois State Police because it is their compilation, not mine. And yes, despite your off base opinion, Wheaton does have a lower crime rate.

Based upon your statement though it doesn't appear that you understand much about statistics nor about crime rates.

I'd like to know more about how exactly you think Wheaton sucks resources out of Naperville?

You have attempted to plant a seed that Naperville police may be providing more "services" than Wheaton. It is your theory so it will be up to you to support it with facts in terms of what Naperville does that Wheaton doesn't. Once we know if there is an actual difference then we can make an educated decision on whether or not we feel like we need any additional services or not and communicate our feelings to the city council.

As far as the city council deliberately having more police around to make people "feel" safe is pretty much a baseless argument. Police do not patrol neighborhoods on any kind of a regular basis. Citizens do not see patrol cars anywhere but responding to emergencies or making traffic stops and mostly only on major thoroughfares. There simply isn't enough of a police "presence" in neighborhoods that would arguably lead to people to feeling safer.

If all of the extra Naperville police are needed only to patrol downtown and the out-of-town crowds eating and drinking to benefit all of the out-of-town /owners/merchants then let these owners/merchants provide private security at their own expense. I've traveled the world and have enjoyed restaurant districts in dozens and dozens of cities and no where else do I see the kind of police presence that exists in downtown Naperville nor do I see any kind of street crime or violence that would warrant such over staffing.

I'll maintain that if downtown crime would increase without the existing level of police presence then maybe we have the wrong mix of businesses and that the chamber of commerce and the city are marketing Naperville businesses in the wrong places and to the wrong people. If we are going to advertise and market Naperville to the extent that people will travel here as a destination then those entrusted with the job should be making darn sure they are targeting an audience that will not increase local crime just to turn a lousy buck.

Your comments are off base and statistically invalid.

Wheaton did not achieve a lower crime rate. Naperville has a much larger and more diverse population. They are going to have a higher crime rate. I argue that neither Police Department did much to influence the crime rate.

Here's somethings to chew on. You'd need to compare all of the services that Naperville PD provides vs. Wheaton PD. Perhaps Naperville provides more?

Another factor is that certain City Council's desire more police presence to make residents fell safe. I think that is the case in Naperville.

Finally, the downtown and Riverwalk are wildcards for Naperville. Wheaton has no coparrison and it sucks resources out of Naperville. You get 10,000 kids from all over the area, including Wheaton, and 50 bars in one spot and you'll see some issues.

In conclusion, comparing one town to another in any area is difficult. Lots of differences... and dare I say, politics.

Marcus,

As promised here are the crime stats for comparison between 2008 and 2009 the most recent calendar years available in the Illinois State Police "Crime In Illinois" report. Naperville is reported under both Dupage and Will Counties while all of Wheaton is reported in Dupage.

CRIME RATE PER 100,000

Naperville (Dupage) - 2009 = 1,396.6
- 2008 = 2,053.1
Naperville (Will) - 2009 = 2,555.4
- 2008 = 1,274.2
Wheaton - 2009 = 1,375.2
- 2008 = 1470.2

The Crime Rate in Naperville (Dupage) decreased 32%, Naperville (Will) increased 100%, and Wheaton decreased 6.5%. Wheaton had a lower crime rate in both calendar years.

TOTAL CRIME INDEX

Naperville (Dupage) - 2009 = 1,367
- 2008 = 2,001
Naperville (Will) - 2009 = 1,156
- 2008 = 573
Wheaton - 2009 = 749
- 2008 = 802

The Total Crime Index in Naperville (Dupage) decreased 32%, Naperville (Will) increased 102%, and Wheaton decreased 6.6%.


The argument can be made that Wheaton is heavily understaffed, that Naperville is heavily overstaffed, or that a combination of lightly understaffing of Wheaton and lightly overstaffing of Naperville could all be made. Heck, the people living in Wheaton could even make the claim that based upon their crime rate in comparison to Naperville and other communities that Wheaton is overstaffed.

A couple of things are for sure. One thing is that the crime statistics clearly demonstrate there is less per capita crime in Wheaton than there is here in Naperville. A second thing is that Wheaton was able to achieve lower crime results using less police officers on a per capita basis. And most importantly just having more police officers does not demonstrate that a community will have a lower crime.

Maybe the City Council should send Chief Dial up to Wheaton for a while so he can learn something from Chief Field on how to lower our crime rate as well as what he needs to do to get the job done at a lower cost to the Naperville taxpayer? Or maybe the City Council should just send Chief Dial into retirement and get a better administrator to run the police department.

Marcus,

Wheaton and Naperville are very, very similar in many, many easily and readily comparable aspects of urban life. Of course you are free to see these two towns as drastically differently if that is your choice.

Next, I'll dig out the crime statistics of both communities and post those up here as well. Remember, when Naperville was talking about laying off police? Fear was spread by the police, their spouses, and the police union that crime would run rampant without the same level of police staffing.

If it is true that lower police staffing leads to increased crime and if Wheaton is that far understaffed, as you infer, then the per capita crime stats for Wheaton should be significantly higher than Naperville.

UncommonSense,

Is it possible that Wheaton is understaffed not that Naperville is overstaffed. I think you are also misjudging the equality of the communities. Similar in many ways yes, but not close enough to the same demographics to make those comparisons as I see it.

That was the City Council. I'm sure that they never asked the Police about using it for an investigation. In fact, I'm sure the police would use it and tell the Council later, if ever. At that time they'd say that they never said the first comment. That's how good these people are.

So I'm watching a tv show the other night (Law & Order LA) and the cops nail some citizens by using the smart grid to determine who was actually home during a specific time period 9and proving they had lied).

of course,our councilmen have assured us that they would never,ever,double-honest ever use data from the smart grid for anything but billing and allowing us to seethe efficiency of our personal usage.

Assessment down, taxes still up...

Anyone who is bothered by that statement, please ask yourself did you vote in the last election and if you did vote are you still happy with the choices you made?

Assessment down, taxes still up...

Anyone who is bothered by that statement, please ask yourself when you last communicated your displeasure about tax rates to the elected officials in any of these taxing bodies?

Assessment down, taxes still up...

Anyone who is bothered by that statement, please ask yourself when you last did your own evaluation of staffing levels and expenditures of other cities similar to Naperville to determine if what Naperville is doing appears reasonable?

Case in point Wheaton and Naperville are fairly comparable in many demographic aspects although Naperville has about three times the population and geographic area and should be able to leverage a more efficient economy of scale in terms of budget, staffing, and overall city management.

Wheaton has 3 fire stations, Naperville has 10 - about proportionately equal with each other.
Wheaton has 53 total fire positions, Naperville has 197 - Naperville is 38 positions above being proportionate with Wheaton.

Wheaton has 85 total police positions, Naperville has 300 - Naperville is 45 positions above being proportionate Wheaton.

Of course total budget or individual department budgets or staffing levels could also be compared as could other comparisons be made against other similar sized cities all across the US or greater Chicago area.

However, just one quick snapshot against another local community suggest there is at least a possibility of Naperville being seriously overstaffed by 83 people in just two city departments begs the question of how much overstaffing might be found if a top to bottom audit and thorough comparison was performed?

With salary, benefits, and retirement the annual cost for 83 city employees exceeds $6 million dollars. With 83 fewer city employees not only would there be no budget deficit, but there would be no need to cut city services or add on additional fees and taxes AND the total property tax rate could be lowered. How much lower depends upon right sizing every single city department, department consolidation, and outsourcing. Right now we have a city government that acts more like a socialized employment agency than it does a responsible and right sized employer who is accountable to the taxpayer.

They might have done a decent job at some things in the past, but these days, the only thing they do well is reward themselves and lie to everyone else. People don't pay enough attention, thus the pushers of the smart grid that is going to cost everyone a BUNDLE (so much more than can even be seen now) got re-elected - telling these guys that this sort of thing is fine. We have only seen the tip of the ice burg on what this council and management team have done, and will continue to do to us.

Anybody notice the total tax RATE on their bills is much higher. Check it against years past. that should worry everyone.

Have to agree with anon, 7:13 am. One of the reasons "justifying" the increase in water rates was the lack of consumption, so using less, actually means paying the same or more. Clearly, the cost of water is set by the supplier, the City of Chicago. They didn't raise rates 29%, so the problem lies with our local utility -- hired by our city staff.

I also agree, that electric rates will go up due to the "investment" in the downstate power plant. Read up on the cost overruns and the projections of future costs.....

The smart grid: We'll pay more for power during the day and less at night. According to the sales pitch, we'll pay less if we conserve. Again, I'll ask the questions that no one answers: How do I cool my home during peak hours -- BTW that's my number one use of electricity. Can I really do my laundry at night? One load, max. Then, I have to get up and move clothes from the washer to the dryer. It's a joke. Also, how about our city -- will they be moving operations to the off peak hours, or will we taxpayers just pay the premium for peak use? I think we all know the answer to that one. Ditto for stores and schools and hospitals.

In addition, our tax bill went up, about 4%. My assessment went down, but it is still about 10% above market value. So, yes, my taxes are up and going higher. Besides the garbage fee, I now pay for lawn waste removal, previously part of my real estate taxes, I pay more in gasoline taxes, I pay SECA taxes every time I eat in a restaurant and I will eventually pay for leave collection, and so on....

But I was glad to see some members of council take credit for doing a wonderful job managing expenses....They do get a lot of things right, but there is room for much improvement.

The reality is that government spending at all levels, the political economy combined with the crony economy, has put the country, Illinois and local governments on the path towards an economic death spiral. Economic crashes combined with high to hyper inflation.

It is interesting to note, that the Germans having experienced the above, turned away from spending and made substantial changes this time. Perhaps we should learn from history too.

If you want to mark a date on your calendar, mark the day that the debt limit is increased in DC.

The point of no return; 90% debt to GDP, is approx 3 years off, the collapse typically follows.


No, they don't connect to your property taxes - HOWEVER - the same Council that sets your tax rates, does determine your water and electric rates. What's funny is that you said if you want to pay less, use less. Guess you didn't see the presentation at the City Council meeting where they said that one of the reasons they are raising those rates 29% is that people used LESS water! (btw, that rate continues to go UP over the next several years as well)

We will see what "reason" they give for raising your electric rates, but whatever that reason is, you can look to the Smart Grid that was forced on us as residents for the source of the flushing noise as your wallet empty's. That and their poor decision to invest in the IMEA plant that is running millions over projected costs as their source for power.

So no, those $$ don't relate to tax bill, but the decisions that raise them are made by the same people who are patting themselves on the back for saving you tax money. Point being, just because they spout off about not raising your taxes doesn't mean they don't have their hands in your pockets just as much if not more than everyone else.

Water and electric are proprietory functions. Therefore, the rates are set by cost to provide the service. The more you use the more you pay. Those who use more; pay more. If you want to reduce your water or electric bill, use less water and electricity. There is no connection between reduced property taxes and higher utility bills. No part of your property taxes goes to the utility funds.

Just think, slavery ended in America. Not quite, a new form has arisen over the years. Taxpayers are now subservient to government. Pensions, benefits and a tax code will take by force if necessary, private property,

I know many will not agree with me, but just wait till each of us is asked to pay for bankrupted government pension plans. Your property rights are at risk.

Welcome tax slaves, enjoy!!!!

Those of you listening to your City Council sing it's own praises over the fact that City of Naperville taxed amounts went down, REMEMBER please that your Water Bill was just increased by 29%, your Electric bill will skyrocket upon the release of the Electric rate "study", you're paying an additional $2 a month for garbage, and Naperville has that nice little gas tax that wasn't there 2 years ago. Yes, your Naperville City Tax bill went down a few dollars, but your friends in council got a lot more from you in fee's and utility bills as your services went down. These folks who pretend to be on your side are applauding themselves while spending MORE of your money while you keep less of it. At least the tax bills are deductible!


This whole tax system is unfail. My assesst valuationn fell to, but due to the lower values of our homes, the taxing bodies like the park district, andd the School system they raise there multipliers. Just for example, look at you tax bill from last year and compare. 204 raised thier tax rate by 20% to make up the shortfall due to lower poperty values. (I received this info from the assessor)

This is totally wrong that the taxing bodies can do this. They are allowed to spend what they want and don't know the word Budjet.

This whole system is corrupt and the taxpayers are once again being stiffed again.

Thank you 204 for sticking it to us again. Maybe we could build a 4th. high schol that we don't need like the third high shcool that we didn't need. And maybe 204 could put out another 5 million dollars that was lost on the Brach property because they thought the first referendum would pass because of the stupidity and arrogance.

We have all had to cut back because of the economy and I am sick and tired of our governments and the school system are allowed to run amuk.

It is a no win situation. The government both local and federal not to mention the school system will hava all of us living in tents.

I appealed my tax assessment (Lisle Township) earlier this year due to an appraisal from when we re-financed our mortgage in February of 2010. This is the first time going through this process and I was well prepared. We own a two story, four bedroom colonial style home which is common in Naperville.

Well, the end result was the board agreed with my appraisal and comparisons. In fact, they had a property and I had a property that were below our appraisal. My interest was just to go with our appraisal as the base for my argument and not try to take advantage. The board agreed with me and the end result was our taxes went down $460.00 for at least this time in comparison to our tax bill from last year. I guess they are going to do re-assessments in the fall of this year so I will probably be back to appeal again.

What surprised me is few homeowners were there to even appeal at all. The appointment line was small. Just my observation on the day I was there.

This is really not a difficult process and more people should try to appeal. Just be prepared and consider getting an appraisal or be very diligent in doing your own comparisons.

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on May 11, 2011 7:39 PM.

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