District 200 Candidate: Jefferson Numbers are Misleading
District 200 board candidate presents the tax impact of new early childhood center to show the difference residents will see after 11 years. He said after looking closely, he discovered an "inconsistency" in the district's presentation.
Voters in District 200 will decide whether they support the district in bonding $17.6 million to rebuild Jefferson Early Childhood Center, costing them $19 to $50 over the next 10 years, then $224 to $585 in 2023.
The District 200 board of education approved a referendum question on Jefferson for the spring election ballot, with hopes of opening the new school for the 2015-16 school year. The board also approved a financing plan to amortize some of the bond principal annually, with no debt service extension past 2023 and a debt service of about $23.6 million.
Kyle Nenninger, one of nine candidates in this year's school board election, said last week that after looking closely at the numbers presented for Jefferson, he discovered an "inconsistency" between the annual tax impact reported and the actual average tax impact.
"The average annual tax impact of the Jefferson referendum is almost double the annual amounts CUSD 200 has stated in emails, on their website, and consequently reported in articles."
The annual tax impact numbers provided by the district only include the first 10 years of the debt, and not the impact of the $12.7 million balloon payment due in 2023, he said.
"When the 2023 Jefferson debt payment is included, as it must be for an accurate representation, the average annual tax impact almost doubles over the annual amounts previously provided by CUSD 200."
The district would pay off its debt service with a major payment of $12.7 million in 2023, resulting in less of a tax decrease than what residents would see without the project.
With Jefferson, the district's total debt service (see bar graph for Option 2) would be about $23.6 million. The district would make gradual payments on the project until the $12.7 million payment in 2023, when most of the existing debt service is paid off.
Without Jefferson, the total debt service would gradually increase to about until 2022. In 2023, it would drop to about $5 million, cutting tax bills for residents in $200,000 to $500,000 homes by $461 to $1,202, respectively.
Taxpayers would still see a drop in their taxes in 2023 with the Jefferson project, but by $237 to $617 for residents in $200,000 to $500,000 homes.
|Home Value||Decrease in debt payment||Decrease in debt payment including Jefferson debt|
Using the difference in the 2023 tax reduction of $224 to $585, Nenninger said over 11 years, the average annual tax impact is $37 to $95, not $19 to $50.
"All residents are expected to see a decrease in tax for district debt in levy year 2023. There will be less of a decrease if voters approve the Jefferson project, but their tax would still be lower than the previous year."
She wrote in an email Monday, "An average can be an inaccurate statistic when there are significant variations across numbers, such as the large drop in debt service in the 11th year of the proposed bond issue. An average also would not be an accurate description of tax impact for those who move in or out of the district during that period. Most taxpayers want to know the effect each year on their tax bill, and those are the numbers presented at the January 9 meeting and on the district website. I am confident the district has been transparent and that our community members are capable of analyzing them properly."
Swanson said Saturday that District 200 will be scheduling community-wide informational meetings on the project, and she encourages residents to take advantage of them, or contact the district with questions.
"We want to provide voters with the information they need to make whatever choice best fits their needs and values," she said.
Nenninger said his statement is not an issue of support or opposition to the proposed Jefferson project, but about making sure residents have a "clear understanding of the facts" when asked to vote on a financial matter.
"When I decided to run for the Board of Education I hoped to focus on technology, curriculum, middle school B sports, etc. I never expected to be put in the position of having to inform voters that the information being provided on the referendum is misleading."
The 2013 election will be April 9, 2013. The referendum question will read:
"Shall the Board of Education of Community Unit School District Number 200, DuPage County, Illinois, build and equip a new early childhood center to replace the existing Jefferson Early Childhood Center, improve the site thereof and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $17,600,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?"