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Local Property Taxation and Information

Dear Taxpayers and Community Members,

It was very special day this past summer when the Illinois State Legislature passed a much needed and bipartisan school funding reform bill. While no system is perfect, the new evidence-based funding model will fund public schools in a far more fair and equitable manner going forward. Now, we just need the legislature to properly fund the model over the coming five to ten years so that we can see the results at the local level, and provide natural relief to local property tax payers.

Along these lines, we have significant concern in how local tax revenues will be impacted due to legislative proposals to increase the property tax exemptions. While we are completely in favor of lowering property taxes over time through Illinois adequately and equitably funding our schools as they do in other states, legislative proposals for increases in tax exemptions have major implications for school district finances.

For example, a recently proposed increase in the owner occupied exemption to $10,000, along with the senior citizen exemption by an additional $3,000, would have caused an immediate $15.5 million loss in our school district’s tax base. The two proposals combined would have cost the district roughly $500,000 annually in revenue, or an estimated $5 million over a ten year period. Here is the calculation that shows exactly how this works. Proposals like these are unacceptable in a state that has years of work ahead to properly fund our local school districts, which will provide natural property tax relief over time The Board of Education believes strongly in keeping property taxes as low as possible, and that the path to lowering property taxes is through adequate and equitable state funding for schools.

School district taxes constitute a significant portion of the local property tax bill, and our district makes every effort to maintain a low tax rate in our community. Please access the following Answers to Your Questions about Local Property Taxes and the 2017 Tax Levy for a complete and transparent overview of not only property taxes related to the school district, but property taxation in general, including how you can check your own tax bill.

This document also explains how we kept our overall tax rate at about the same level as last year, which means that any increase in taxes from the school district portion of the tax bill will be a result of a natural increase in a home's assessed value. Also, the district's tax base is still below where we were in 2009. The 13 percent drop we saw in local property values after the housing market crash combined with a state that ranks last in its funding for schools, caused a budget deficit that we are still working our way through.

We believe in transparency and accountability for every dollar we spend, and I welcome your questions, comments or concerns about anything related to the business of running the school district, including your local property taxes. Thank you for your interest, and please contact me at 815-223-1111 if you have any questions at all.

Mark R. Cross, Superintendent

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Peru Elementary District 124 1800 Church Street Peru, IL  61354
Phone: 815-223-1111 FAX: 815-223-0490

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