GEL BIG PICTURE: Unmasking The Local Property Tax Bill

DuPage Property Tax 2010 Chart

No one likes taxes. Period. Do you feel like burying your head in the sand and hope some day they'll go away? Well, that's not a good strategy. It only makes your head hot and itchy.

The BAD
We think the feds are bad. When was the last time you really took a look at your property tax bill? Well, here's some excitement for you if you haven't been paying too much attention to it over the years.

The UGLY
I analyzed my 2010 property tax bill delivered in the USPS mail today.

Here are few insights that may make you stick your head in the sand (wait, we already covered that!):

Close to 74% of the property tax goes towards supporting local grade school and high school districts (the vast majority of that is for the grade school district 41 at a whopping 45.2%). Hopefully, you feel like you're getting your money's worth!

Why does that matter? If you're like me (living in Glen Ellyn for 2 years before having 2 children and planning to live here 10 years into empty nesting) the total tax contribution over 30 years at approx $8,000 per year average will translate the cost of two children's grade school and high school education to close to a quarter of a million dollars. Or $120,000 per child. Kinda changes your perspective on your investment in local education doesn't it? Compare that investment to the college savings plan you might be making to afford a typical $200,000 per child 4 year college education and you see how it plays out. It pays to have more children in the system!

Are you offended at the notion the Village government seems to slip their hand in your pocket too often? Their share is a measly 6.6% in comparison to the total. (Over the same 30-year projection of the current tax rate, the total contribution to supporting village investments will be under $20,000 at $650 per year.)

Following the village, the Glen Ellyn Park District tax share is 5.0% to keep the parks in shape, and the Glen Ellyn Library is 4.2% to keep books on the shelves. I'm wondering why 3.7% of my tax bill supports COD given the College Board prefers governing in a vacuum and desires a lack of accountability to local Village ordinances.

The greatest tax rate increase resides in funding seven different pension funds. The Dupage Forest Preserve District had the highest increase at 34%. The Dupage Co Health Pension fund tax rate increased 18%. And the High School District 87 Pension fund flexed to 16%. The Glen Ellyn Library Pension fund grew 12%.

In general most taxing district's tax rate increased 6% to 7%, with High School District 87 and COD commanding the greatest tax hike increase of 10% from 2009.

The GOOD

Can there possibly be a good side to the 2010 tax bill? YES.

The 2010 assessment appears to have adjusted the fair cash value to reflect the decline in the local housing market. For me, that amounted to a 4% reduction. Not great news if you're trying to sell your home. But at least at a time when the tax rates have increased across the board from 6% to 34%, a reduction is welcome news.

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