Last month, around 29,500 real estate owners in Naperville Unit District 203 had a pleasant surprise in their mailboxes: tax breaks.
It found that District 203 school board members unanimously agreed to reimburse taxpayers a total of $ 10 million in January to ease the financial burden of the COVID-19 crisis.
The move was made possible because the district had an unexpected budget surplus of around $ 14 million.
“Tax responsibility is a top priority for the Board of Directors,” said CFO Michael Frances this week. “This is a way of showing that they are serious about it.”
Of course, the district could have done any number of things with the money. Indeed, the school council race challengers questioned whether the money could have been better spent on other priorities during the pandemic. One candidate said the $ 10 million could have been used to provide protective equipment for teachers or to offer programs to help students in trouble.
The district could have advocated simply keeping the money in order to be better prepared for a possible future crisis. In many cases, tax authorities have good reasons to save for unexpected expenses later.
However, the heads of state or government in District 203 called on the taxpayer’s behalf and decided to take this unique opportunity to remedy the situation.
The $ 14 million budget surplus was realized because a statewide home stay ordinance in March 2020 halted personal operations until the end of the 2019-20 academic year. District 203 eventually saved money on replacement teachers, transportation, supplies, and meals.
Some of the excess money will be used to pay for the district’s Return to Learn plan and get the children back to school. An additional $ 1.1 million was allocated to reimburse district families for general dues paid that academic year.
However, the lion’s share of the excess cash went to taxpayers.
The owner of a $ 400,000 home received a $ 278 check, according to Frances.
That doesn’t seem like a lot of money when you consider that the same homeowner pays the school district about $ 6,900 in property taxes annually.
Still, every little bit helps.
Suburban communities and school districts understand this. Several cities recently offered loans for water and sanitation bills. Some school districts, including Northwest Suburban High School District 214, have waived student enrollment fees.
District 203 deserves praise for taking it a step further and mailing checks to taxpayers.