On the November 8, 2022 ballot is a $140 MILLION referendum for BPS101. From the district website:
“Shall the Board of Education of Batavia Community Unit School District Number 101, Kane County, Illinois, be authorized to build and equip a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School and demolish the existing buildings, and alter, repair, equip and improve its other school facilities, including but not limited to installing student safety and security enhancements and improving roofs, floors, windows, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, and improve the sites thereof, and issue its bonds to the amount of $140,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”
The most important thing we want to add is that, this will not change your bond and interest tax levy. If the voters pass the referendum, it will allow the Board of Education to issue up to $140 million in school building bonds that coincide with the retirement of its existing debt to generate funding for capital improvements without increasing the bond and interest property tax levy.
The problem is, “this will not change your bond and interest tax levy” is an empty promise. Bonds MUST be paid, with NO LIMIT as to rate or amount taxpayers can be charged. In other words, THERE IS NO TAX CAP ON BONDED DEBT. The taxpayers are voting on a blank check that will come directly out of property taxes.
There are many other problems with this referendum:
- Why demolish and rebuild 2 schools when enrollment has dropped significantly, and will continue to decline (projected loss of almost 700 students in the next 5 years!) and school buildings should really be eliminated?
- The wording is so vague, nothing must be done and anything can be done, including that 2nd artificial turf field that is in the “Athletic Fields Redevelopment Plan” if they so choose.
- What interest rate assumptions are being made?
- What about soaring construction costs? What will be done if construction is deemed too expensive? Where will the money be used? “Improve its other school facilities” leaves endless possibilities for $140 million.
- We are in a recession, perhaps headed toward a depression—do we need this now?
- Gas prices, food prices, housing prices, etc. are all up, hurting families—why add to the burden? They don’t make it obvious that your property taxes would GO DOWN by hundreds or thousands of dollars (depending on home value) if this referendum is voted down. The school district currently takes 68.1% of your property taxes, of which 10.8% goes to paying debt ($9,001,485 of the $83,276,654 in total property taxes collected in 2022). To get a rough idea of what this referendum might cost you if approved (actual cost varies in relation to relative property value increases/decreases year to year), multiply the total property taxes you paid this year by .0735, the % of your tax bill going toward school debt service.
- The Batavia School Board has a history of broken promises. Recall the 2007, $75 million referendum that they promised, “would not increase the property tax rate”, until it did just 4 years later, increasing their tax extension 11.5% that year, because there is NO LIMIT on tax increases when it comes to bond debt. Then instead of making good on their promise and cutting taxes with the windfall from the Premium Outlets Mall, they rolled those millions into their budget, thumbing their noses at the many taxpayers who attended meetings and wrote to the Board, with the former Superintendent calling us taxpayers, “fools”.
Does the school district need maintenance on the current buildings? Yes. The 2023 budget sets $2.7 million/yr for roofs, HVAC, paving, etc. Those regular expenses have been planned out years in advance and millions of dollars are set aside for them annually. Besides, the school board raises its budget and corresponding tax levy BY THE MAXIMUM ALLOWED BY LAW EVERY SINGLE YEAR (5% or the cost of inflation, whichever is less), so already they should have plenty of tax dollars to meet ordinary needs. This referendum would merely allow them to tax you more beyond the tax cap.
What about improvements like security that were unforeseen years ago (before school shootings) that fall outside of the scope of the ordinary Capital Projects Fund? An argument may be made for a limited, much, much smaller bond referendum, but that suggestion for an “Option D”—to bond a much smaller amount for security and special ed improvements while also reducing the tax burden significantly—would not be entertained by the district.
For all of these reasons and more, we urge you to vote “No” to this $140 million referendum.