Daily Herald
One way to make school taxes fairer
Published: 9/15/2007 7:04 AM

As the trend for households without children increases (47.2 percent in Kane County, 48.9 percent DuPage County), the Daily Herald, (Aug. 29) pointed out a growing concern at the ballot box regarding the anticipated difficulty with the successful passage of future school referendums.

Unless schools are to be unacceptably overcrowded and poorly staffed, and until the state fulfills its constitutional responsibility to fund public education (if ever!), it is in the interest of all to alter the way schools are funded through property taxes.

Equitable taxation is the key. Fewer households with children equates to fewer "yes" votes for increasing school taxes.

Why should a household without kids in school pay the same as the next door neighbor with several kids in school? Or vote in favor of a new school referendum?

Surely the "no kids" household should pay something, but not the same amount.

Or why should the 80-year-old widow whose home has appreciated to, let's say $400,000, pay more to the schools than the $150,000 home owner with several kids using the public school system in the same district? Is equitable taxation an oxymoron?

Here's a proposal: Children are required to include the parcel number of their residence during school registration (found on the property tax bill).

Tie the school tax amount directly to the parcel number at a specified dollar amount, not the value of the property. Now, multiply that dollar amount by the number of children residing at that parcel number.

Have more kids; pay more for the use of the public school system. No kids means no school tax? Sorry, no. That would violate the concept of equitability. Landlords pass the cost on to the renter. Multiple families living in a single family house would no longer escape paying their fair share.

Everyone has a "multiplier" of at least 1. No kids in school, multiply by one. One kid in school, multiply by one. Two kids in school, multiply by two, etc. As the number of kids from a particular parcel number decreases, so does the multiplier, down to 1.

After 12 years without a kid in a public school, the multiplier drops to 0.5, 0.25, or perhaps zero. If zero, that property owner would no longer be able to vote on future school referendums.

Buy a home, the multiplier is 1. Never have kids in a public school for 12 years; your multiplier drops to a lower rate or zero. This would apply to those who home school or send their kids to a private school. The operative factor is whether or not you use the public schools. The multiplier is transferable anywhere within the state.

Let's say the last kid graduates when the home owner is 50 years old. Pay school taxes at a multiplier of 1 for the next 12 years. When the owner is 62: greatly decreased or no more school taxes as the owner approaches retirement. No more increasing school taxes on the retired. No more seniors losing their home due to an inability to pay school taxes.

William C. Hallow

North Aurora