District 200 approves $2.4M tax abatement

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The District 200 school board on Feb. 28 approved a tax abatement totaling roughly $2.4 million, meaning property owners in River Forest in Oak Park will see a lower tax bill in 2014.

The one-time abatement narrowly passed, with board members Amy McCormack, Dietra Millard and Ralph Lee voting the measure down. The board spent considerable time deliberating the matter during their regular meeting on Thursday. The board opted to abate the full amount of about $2,487,000 instead of the partial abatement option of $1.6 million.

Members Terry Finnegan, John Phelan, Sharon Patchak-Layman and Valerie Fisher voted in favor the full abatement

The vote came at the tail end of the roughly five-hour regular board meeting.
Earlier in the meeting during public comments, Barb Langer, a critic of the school's finances who's running for a school board seat in the April election, reiterated her plea that the school board "repeal and refund" the $1.6 million it levied back in December. She then asked each board member to state publicly if they would but board President told Langer that's not the board's practice of answering questions during public comments.

The board Thursday also approved a resolution that sets the stage for the school to fund the Collaboration for Early Childhood's initiative for integrated supportive care system in the two villages. In a 7-0 vote, the board authorized the administration to begin drafting an intergovernmental agreement with the Collaboration, District 97 and Village of Oak Park. D97 and Village have already committed to funding the Collab's proposed initiative.

Patchak-Layman initially suggested funding the Collab's program from Madison TIF disbursements due the high school and looked to amend the motion on the table. Her amendment, however, died after not receiving a second from another board member.

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Dr. Barbara Langer  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 8:34 AM

I asked each BOE member if they would repeal and refund the 2002 REFERENDUM, which increased the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) tax cap to 2.95% - which is double what D200 spends/needs and is the source of D200's now estimated $140million cash surplus, as well as its power and independence from the community. D200 removed the word "Community" from its organizational charts starting in 2006, after "phasing in" the full PTELL cap in Dec 2005 (see D200's Annual Financial Reports).


Posted: March 5th, 2013 6:59 AM

Why thank you school board for $55! That sure will help the tax increase you gave me. Still not voting for any board members running for re-election.


Posted: March 3rd, 2013 7:54 PM

$2.4 million down, $97.6 million to go. How do citizens get a refund of the $100 mil in the bank on the ballot?

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 2nd, 2013 8:37 AM

Sorry, my error. I meant to say $130 million surplus.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 2nd, 2013 8:35 AM

On reviewing this and seeing another article in WJ, might the school board be planning a redo of the HS to accommodate more students in the future. Except student numbers are dropping. I think D200 board has a plan for the $1.3 mil surplus. Is this abatement meant to soften us before the one - two punch?

Dave from River Forest  

Posted: March 2nd, 2013 7:26 AM

Sharon Patchak-Layman continues to exhibit common sense dealing with fiscal matters for the High School. John Phelan also seems to understand what this surplus is doing to tax payers in the Community. Hopefully, Barb Langer is successful this Spring and the Board can start functioning in a rational manner. This abatement is a start, a small start, but still welcome.

Chew Chew  

Posted: March 2nd, 2013 3:40 AM

2.5 Million of $100 + Million is chump change.....

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 12:06 PM

That's great. Thanks to Barb Langer for her continued efforts on this levy. Thanks to the board who voted for this proposal and finally waking up.

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 10:47 AM

The threat of the ballot box helped. Finnegan is up for reelection and several candidates are questioning D200's fiscal agenda. The taxpayer's profile is now higher among stakeholders; Barb Langer's tactics may be unusual, but she drove the taxpayer uprising. Thanks, too, to John Phelan for coupling the abatement with a move for wider community input on just what the reserve ought to be. The community needs is an ad hoc watchdog group to strengthen the taxpayer voice in all government spending.


Posted: March 1st, 2013 7:50 AM

Good news all around! Thank you for both those pieces of news!

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