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Property owners could pay less in taxes to Coal City school district

COAL CITY – Property owners in Coal City School District 1 could see a small decrease in property taxes they will pay to the school district next year.

The school district’s tax rate in levy year 2012 – which was for the 2013-14 academic year – was $3.12 per $100 of owned property.

The proposed tax rate for levy year 2013 – which is for the 2014-15 academic year – is $3.17 for every $100 of property value.

The owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $35 less if the $3.17 rate is approved, according to Jason Smith, director of Business Services and Technology for District 1. That’s because while the tax rate may go up, the values of properties in the district have gone down.

The school district seeks to levy $26,678,537 in taxes for next year, about $133,500 more than the district received in taxes last year.

“Look at what was extended to us last year – $26.5 million – and what we are asking for this year – $26.6 million,” said Jason Smith, director of Business Services and Technology for District 1. “When you have numbers this big that is essentially the same number.”

The district approved the tentative levy by a 7-0 vote at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

“We run lean and mean in this district,” Shawn Hamilton, vice president of the board, said during the meeting. “We keep our rates low and I’ve always been proud of that.”

Smith said the tentative levy should bring in the expected amount of money as long as the cumulative equalized assessed value, or EAV, does not change in the next few months.

Residents can appeal to the board of review to challenge their property assessments, which could alter the EAV. This could lead to a larger or smaller levy amount and tax rate.

“If it looks like we are going to get too much money, and our tax rate will go too high, then I can abate and say I don’t need that much,” Smith said. “I just can’t ask for more.”

The district’s total EAV decreased by more than $10,000 in the past year. Dresden Generating Station, which accounts for about 64 percent of the district’s EAV, did not see a decrease in property values, but other property owners did.

“Essentially, we are asking for the same extension that we got in the previous year,” Smith said. “But because the total EAV is down this year, the tax rate has to come up a few pennies to make that happen.”

Smith said about $18 million of the total funds levied would come from Dresden Station and $8.6 million will come from all other property owners.

The school board is scheduled to hold a public hearing Dec. 4 to discuss the levy and answer any questions before members vote to officially adopt it.

The state requires a district to hold a truth in taxation hearing – or public discussion – if the proposed levy increase is 5 percent more than the previous year’s extension. Smith said District 1 has a public hearing every year whether it meets the 5 percent threshold or not.

“It’s important for the public to come and ask questions,” Smith said. “It’s about open transparency.”

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