"An important decision is going to be made soon regarding your taxes," Christian Virelli said in an email blast. "Next year, the Batavia School District will finally realize the roughly $6 million in taxes that we negotiated to receive from the outlet mall when it was first built. ... They basically want to use it to increase their already bloated budget."
Virelli is asking as many people as possible to attend the meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Rosalie Jones Administration Center, 335 W. Wilson St.
The windfall from the expiration of the Aurora No. 2 tax-increment financing district will allow the district to up the 2013 tax levy to $62.6 million — an increase of more than $7 million over the previous year.
District officials argue that the result will still be less in property-tax payments for the average homeowner.
But Virelli and others believe the district should keep the levy flat and use the additional tax revenue from the outlet mall property to lower residents' tax bills.
"If we use it to lower our taxes, we will all see our property taxes drop between $400 and $900 per year!" Virelli says in his email. "Don't let them steal money from our hard-working citizens!"
By the district's own chart, property taxes for the average Batavia home spiked $400 between 2011 and 2012.
According to Virelli, School District 101 Superintendent Dr. Lisa Hichens called Sylvia Keppel, the homeschooling mom of six who is the spearhead of the Lower the Levy campaign, and said the district will not change the venue for the meeting.
"So the small boardroom will be filled to overflowing with Lower the Levy supporters spilling over inconveniently into the hallways of the administrative building," Virelli wrote. "I imagine there will be dozens of people, myself included, who will request a three-minute slot to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting."
If the district does not take advantage of the windfall from the TIF District expiration, it won't be able to recoup that money, since each year's levy is based on the previous year's levy.
Tax-cap legislation allows districts to increase their levies by 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. This year's CPI was 1.7 percent. The proposed 2013 levy would represent a 13 percent increase over 2012.
School officials appreciate the windfall because they have a chance to lower the tax payments of most citizens while using the additional revenue for operations and abatement of debt.
Tax watchdogs are going to have an uphill climb, however, because some of the expected windfall is already earmarked, according to a School District 101 press release.
"The expected revenue from this TIF led the Board to adopt the FY13-14 Capital and Staffing plan in March 2013, which added 7.5 teachers and 3.5 instructional coaches dedicated to enhancing instruction and improving student achievement. These improvements were adopted as part of the 2013-14 budget in September 2013," the district's website says.
"Will they listen and do the right thing?" Virelli asks in his email. "I don't know, but finally, Batavia taxpayers — myself included — are waking up to the way government entities will grab and spend every possible tax dollar they can get their hands on."