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Berwyn

Rep. Hernandez calls for transparency, specifics by taxing bodies

In light of Berwyn South tax issues, law could affect future referendums

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez represents the 24th Illinois House District.
State Rep. Lisa Hernandez represents the 24th Illinois House District.

BERWYN- State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, has introduced legislation that would require new referendums to clearly state the specific dollar amount taxing bodies are seeking from taxpayers in an effort to address increased property taxes, according to a news release.

“I understand the frustration of the Berwyn South School District when it comes to the funding they desperately need. That’s why I’ve worked to provide an additional five million dollars in funding for our local public schools over the last two years,” Hernandez said in a statement. “However, this referendum has hurt working families in our community who simply cannot afford higher taxes.” 

The Berwyn South School District requested a levy of $17 million beginning in the 2017 property tax year, which required a referendum approved tax increase of 0.6 percent. A majority of voters approved the referendum, establishing a new levy of the school district’s taxable property. However, due to general reassessments, the total equalized assessed value increased by more than 20 percent, which means the school district is set to receive about $2.5 million more than what they anticipated. As a result, local homeowners are seeing substantially higher property taxes than what they believed they were voting on.

Taxpayers have shown their frustration with the school board at its meetings, with some residents complaining that their tax bills increased by thousands of dollars, while others said they feared they would lose their homes because they could no longer afford their property taxes.

The Berwyn South school board voted in early December to use the surplus referendum funds to abate its bond debt levy, which could relieve the taxpayers of some of that burden next year.

According to the release, Hernandez’s bill attempts to prevent crises like these from ever happening again. By requiring taxing bodies to be clear about how much money they are asking for in future referendums, local taxpayers will be better able to make fully informed decisions at the ballot box.

“There are ways in the new funding formula for school districts to apply for more funding from the state to prevent local property tax increases,” Hernandez said in the statement. “I look forward to working with Berwyn South to ensure they get the resources they need and making sure property taxes are reigned in.” 

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