Now there’s irrefutable proof that we’re over taxed to operate District 96 in Riverside (“Schools exhale after funding compromise,” News, Sept. 6).
Our taxes are funding the District at 134 percent of what it needs (“adequacy”). Even better: We can finally do something about it. A new Illinois law permits voters in districts where funding exceeds 110 percent of adequacy to petition for a referendum to lower property taxes. If a majority agree in the subsequent election, our school taxes could be lowered to 110 percent of adequacy.
District 96 is the most over taxed in the area. Only District 204 (Lyons Township), at 120 percent, also qualifies for this relief.
Why must the taxpayers continue to fund a gigantic savings account for District 96? Well, here’s a reason: it allows the school board to fund large capital projects right out of its bank account without first having to ask us for permission.
We aren’t talking small amounts here. Pull out your tax bill and find the amount you paid last year for District 96. Then multiply it by 18 percent and you’ll be very close to your actual potential savings.
Our state representative, Michael Zalewski, opined in the same story that he doubts that a majority of District 96 voters would vote to lower their taxes. I disagree. No one wants to be overcharged for anything, and Riverside taxes are now so high that they’ve become a drag on the real estate market. Just ask any local realtor.
To whom is the petition to be directed? How is it to be worded? Is it 10 percent of all registered voters, or only those who voted in the last election? Are there time frames/limitations for the petition?
Representative Zalewski voted for this new law. I look to him to provide us guidance in interpreting it. It’s a good opportunity to show us, before he runs again next year, that he really has the voters’ financial welfare in mind, and that he isn’t just another tax-and-spend Democrat.
Terence M. Heuel