Wilmette School District 39 Levy Increase (April 2011)
This measure was approved
- YES 5,755 (63.05%)
- NO 3,372 (36.95%)
This measure asked for a $.35 per $100 of assessed value increase in local property taxes. The current tax rate was $1.65 per $100 of assessed property value and school officials noted that they believe this small increase will greatly help with expected budget shortfalls for the coming years. Also, it had been 13 years since the district last asked for a tax increase so school officials were hopeful residents would support them in this measure. Board members noted that it is never good to ask for tax increases, but saw this as the only way to ensure services and programs are sustained at the schools.
A group in support of this measure had been formed, Citizens for Wilmette Schools, and were trying to inform residents about the need of the money, that the additional funds go towards keeping current programs and services in the schools with nothing major being added. The head of the group noted that residents should support the schools otherwise it was noted that deep cuts would have to be made to help with the expected budget deficits in the coming school year. Other residents noted that the school had been financially responsible and trust the school to not ask for more than what the need.
The Wilmette League of Women Voters had also come out in support of this measure noting that the proposed reductions if the measure had been defeated would be disastrous for the school. Teacher lay offs as well as increased school sizes would result as well as reduced programing. Usually the League does not take sides on local issues, but now helped campaign with supporters to educate residents on the school's needs.
Those opposed to the measure questioned the claims that an increase in taxes was needed for the district to remain competitive and on the same level as nearby school districts. Also that increasing taxes when residents were already finding it hard to make ends meet just adds to the burden. It was also noted that the district had not been financially responsible with money before, though proponents claimed just the opposite. At a meeting held prior to the election, others noted that the school board was being negligent in that it let a small financial problem years ago grow into a financial crisis now and also allowing for inaccurate information to be given to residents.
A lawsuit had been filed against the school district but was dismissed and an attempt at an appeal was also dismissed on March 15. The lawsuit had claimed that the school had filed misleading ballot language and the proposed taxes underestimated the actual impact of the tax. The school ended up paying $45,000 in legal fees in regards to the case and officials noted that they are glad the issue is behind them so they can focus on more important school needs. Though the group which brought forth the lawsuit planned to try again to file an appeal with the court.
The further attempts by opponents to get this appeal into the court were denied again by the district judge and no further attempts are being reported.
- Cook County Clerk, April Election Results
- Pioneer Local, "Wilmette District 39 Board OKs April 5 referendum," January 19, 2011
- TribLocal, "Group formed to push D39 referendum," January 24, 2011 (timed out)
- TribLocal, "League of Women Voters to support D39 referendum," March 2, 2011
- Wilmette-Life, "At odds: Friends say, 'reasonable people can disagree reasonably' over tax hike," March 22, 2011 (dead link)
- Wilmette Patch, "Dist. 39 Board Clarifies Ballot Language," March 22, 2011
- Trib Local Wilmette-Kenilworth, "Referendum lawsuit appeal dismissed in District 39," April 16, 2012 (timed out)
- Trib Local Wilmette-Kenilworth, "Resident: No appeal anticipated in school referendum lawsuit," May 23, 2012
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