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School Release and Meeting Sheds Light on Property Tax Situation

By Zachary Daum

mascherald@heraldpubs.com

The Mascoutah School District held a meeting about the districts assessment increases on Tuesday, December 19 at 7:00 PM. These increases occur every year, however several residents complained about the high number of 21% on both Facebook and on The Herald’s website.

Due to last week’s article, the Mascoutah School District released the following letter on Monday, Dec. 18, explaining the situation, before the meeting:

Dear Mascoutah School District #19 Community,

Last Thursday’s headline in the local paper indicates that the Mascoutah School District is proposing a 21% property tax increase. This headline needs to be put into context. The Mascoutah School District is proposing a 21% increase in our base Equalized Assessed Value or EAV. EAV is not our property tax rate. EAV is calculated yearly by the St. Clair County Assessor, and Mascoutah CUSD 19 has no control over that EAV. Once our EAV is established, each taxing district then applies their rate to determine how much that property pays in taxes. Mascoutah 19’s tax rate of 4.77 is one of the lowest rates in all of St. Clair County. Mascoutah 19’s tax rate has remained in the 4.77 range for many years. Any increase in your tax bill is directly related to the assessed value of your property.

So will your taxes be going up 21%? The short answer is no. The 21% increase is an intentionally inflated guesstimate at what the District projects the total increase in EAV could be. Where did the 21% come from? The District’s EAV in 2022 was $301,714,835.  The ending of Mascoutah’s TIF 2B equates to roughly $15,000,000 in increased EAV alone. The growth of the City of Mascoutah plus the growth in subdivisions on our western boundary also added to our growth estimates. As the EAV rises because of new development, the tax burden is shared with both new and existing property.

The District has also worked with our local legislators to help recoup the money from the Disabled Veterans Tax Exemption which has cost our District $48,762,384 in EAV. This represents 14.75% of our total EAV. This pilot program the state of Illinois has passed will result in our District receiving $1,061,649.75 in fiscal year 2023. The board has already committed to using a majority of that new revenue to offset the Bond & Interest portion of our tax levy, which will help reduce the amount collected on your property taxes.

Mascoutah School District #19 is proud to be one of the best performing school districts in all of Illinois. This was recently acknowledged by U.S. News & World Report as the top performing high school in the metro east was Mascoutah High School. The Mascoutah Middle School was ranked #1 in St. Clair County, and, according to Niche.com, all three of our elementary schools finished in the Top 5. As a Board, we are so proud of that success, but it’s important to recognize that our success over recent years has also made Mascoutah 19 a very appealing place to live. In addition to our growth as a district, we have also witnessed large increases in our home and property values. But please understand that the Mascoutah School District tax rate is one of the lowest tax rates in all of St. Clair County, and, as a Board and fellow taxpayers to the District, we are committed to keeping that rate low while still maintaining the highest of expectations of student success.

Explanations by members of the school board at the meeting, who reiterated what was in the release sent out before the meeting made it clear on their end that while the EAV tax rate will be rising, the school’s tax rate overall for property will be decreasing. Looking at figures over the last seven years, from 2015 to 2022, the rate has decreased from 4.9338 in 2015 to 4.7771 in 2022. The collected total of money in 2015 was $11,685,413 and in 2022 it was $13,970,976. This increase is accounted for by other factors that contributed to the rise in property taxes, allowing the school to capture higher amounts of money at a lower rate.

Other things mentioned of note at the board meeting included Mascoutah School District receiving higher funds from the state, due to Scott Air Force Base residing within the district. As well, the new Boeing facility residing within a TIF district exempts their tax money from going into the school system, however with the increase in residents the facility will bring to the district, the school would recoup some of that cost through those residents who move into the district to work at the facility.

A more complete overview of the full school district meeting will come at a later date, as usual in our publication.

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