Softer landing for Highland Park taxpayers
Tax bill breakdown
Updated: January 4, 2013 10:44AM
Highland Park property taxpayers were walloped during 2012 when their tax bills reflected balloon bond payments due in both North Shore District 112 and Township High School District 113.
The two school districts collectively account for 69 percent of the tax bill.
Both districts will need less money this year to make their debt payments, judging from the tax levies approved in December. That signals a softer landing for taxpayers later this year.
In High School District 113, the portion of the tax levy earmarked to pay bondholders plummeted 62 percent from the $14.3 million that was billed out to taxpayers for debt requirements in 2012. The district includes Deerfield, Bannockburn and Highwood.
While the district’s $81.5 million tax levy for routine operations was up 5 percent, property tax caps will effectively limit the increase for routine needs to 3 percent, the Consumer Price Index for the 2011. The district’s higher request was calculated to capture any growth arising from new development, including teardowns. The state’s tax-cap law allows governments to fully capture those dollars the year the development arrives on the tax rolls.
Even so, High School District 113’s total levy was down 5 percent with the steep drop in its debt requirements.
Meanwhile, the tax levy in North Shore District 112 reflected a 67 percent drop in debt requirements, which fell from $5.6 million to $1.8 million.
While the elementary district also is poised to reap the benefits of any new construction that lands on the tax rolls, the district’s overall claim is down by 1 percent.
The city of Highland Park, which accounts for a much smaller portion of the tax bill, increased its levy by 2 percent in order to prop up the police and fire pension funds and avoid drastic measures later.
Commissioners in the Park District of Highland Park were elated in mid December when they approved a flat property tax levy of $9.7 million for the second year in a row, after reducing the tax request by 10 percent two years ago.
“We should not raise taxes unless there is a good reason,” said Scott Meyers, park board president. “As long as we are able to maintain the quality and scope of our programs and services while offering tax relief to our residents, we should continue to do so.”
The park board noted that capital improvements scheduled for 2013, including the Rosewood Beach improvements, will be financed from operating revenues and district reserves.