Vote NO to $140 Million Referendum

Update: “Vote NO” yard signs are available. Please request your sign through our “Contact Us” page.

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.
  • This referendum is for $140 million in bonds, with unspecified interest. The School Board is promising they will not raise the amount of taxes going toward debt (of course they raise operational expenses by the maximum every year—5% or the cost of inflation, whichever is less, and get ready for a whopping increase next year!), but if the interest rates are higher than on the bonds we currently are paying off, they would either have to bond for less or charge more in taxes to cover the interest. Which do you think they’ll do?
  • 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 7.35% of your tax bill going toward school debt service.
  • NOTE WELL: If this referendum fails to pass, your property taxes will go DOWN. This referendum is really about a tax INCREASE over the lower taxes you will be charged when the last of the current bonds are paid in 2026.
  • 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.

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2 Responses to Vote NO to $140 Million Referendum

  1. Dustin Pieper says:

    While I do broadly agree with the main message here, I do think there are legitimate advantages to having multiple smaller schools across the town, rather than one or two larger schools. Namely, by having the smaller, more local schools, there’s less need for school bus and car traffic infrastructure, at least ideally and with continued improvements in bike infrastructure. That being said, such a system does have the problem of added overlapping administrations. Although, honestly, why a handful of schools couldn’t just share a lot of that admin is beyond me. It makes a lot more sense for a principle to have to drive around between schools when needed, rather than forcing thousands of kids to get across town instead.

  2. danny says:

    Please vote NO! We moved to Batavia in 2019 and our taxes are high. The schools need to learn how to manage their available funds adequately. Why does a very small high school need an artificial turf football field that cost millions of dollars to build and who knows how much to maintain every year? These are high school players not Division 1 college players. Most of the players will never seek or attend college on football scholarships. The fieldhouse for indoor sports is pretty damn nice for a school in a town with 26,000 residents. We have so many warehouse, corporate and retail businesses in this town that the residents should not have to pay more in property taxes and
    $140,000,000 is a lot of money for schools in a town of about 26,000 people, which comes to around $5000 per person.

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