A 4.5 percent tentative tax levy increase was approved for the Edwards County Community School District #1 on Monday night.

Superintendent of Schools David Cowger presented the proposed tax levy for 2020, payable in 2021, and since the proposed rate is less than five percent, a Truth in Taxation Hearing will not be required. Cowger did not expect any changes, so the board unanimously approved the tentative tax levy.

The 2020 estimated Equalized Assess Value of properties was figured at $85,144,419, which is an estimated 4.5 percent increase over the 2019 EAV. In 2019, the district asked for $3,045,570, and received $2,975,433. Cowger proposed to ask for $3,091,827 for the 2020 tax levy, a $46,257 increase over last year.

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This is a projected $3.63 per $100,000 tax rate. The example Cowger provided in response to “how does this affect me?” was if the fair market value of your house was $100,000, at a 3.63 tax rate, your projected taxes would be $1,210 ($100,000/3 = $33,333/100 x 3.63 = $1,210).

Cowger wanted to ensure the board, as well as the taxpayers, were aware that this does not mean they are increasing taxes by 4.5 percent, just that he is “attempting to take into account that there may be a 4.5 percent of EAV growth/increase.”

“If we don’t levy for it, we don’t get it…” he said, reminding that  the funding formula doesn’t factor in what is levied, but what can be levied for.

The actual EAV for Edwards County is projected to be 45 percent farm land, 32 percent residential, 12 percent commercial, nine percent industrial, one percent railroads and one percent minerals. For Richland County, it is projected to be 69 percent farm land and 31 percent residential. For Wayne County, the actual EAV is projected to be 79 percent farm land, 13 percent residential, one percent commercial, four percent railroads and three percent minerals.

Cowger shared, “farm ground continues to be reassessed at a much higher rate. Overall average increase could be as high as 30 percent for the county, however, ours has been running in the 10-11 percent increase. Soil index rating will cause ground to fluctuate.”

On another budgetary note, because Gov. Pritzker’s Fair Tax Amendment did not pass, Cowger informed the board to “plan on a five percent budget cut this year, and a 10 percent budget reduction next year.” He did note that it was still too early to know exactly what is going to happen, though.