Champaign schools proposal: Here's what it'll cost you

Champaign schools proposal: Here's what it'll cost you

The Champaign school district wants to borrow $149 million. Want to know what it will cost you, the taxpayer, each year? Hope you paid attention in high school algebra, because there are plenty of variables involved. The simplified version of how to figure out what you'll owe, courtesy staff writer PATRICK WADE:

Start with the amount the school district thinks it needs to borrow: $149 million. That's $97,625,763 for a new Central High and $51,319,699 to renovate and expand Centennial High.

Add interest: $84 million. That's what the district thinks it will owe on top of the principal amount over the 20-year repayment periods for the series of loans it would take out over the next several years, bringing your new total to about $233 million.

Now the numbers get big: The burden of that $233 million would be spread across all of the district's taxable property, which was worth $1.9 billion in 2013. But the assessed value is not static — it changes and often grows every year.

People will continue to build, too, which means the $233 million burden will be extended to homes and businesses that don't even exist yet. School officials are assuming 1 percent growth in the assessed value every year. We'll do the math for you on this one: At that growth rate, the equalized assessed value of the school district over the next 23 years will average $2,146,167,011 (and 65 cents).

Multiply that by three to get the market value (because the equalized assessed value is one-third the market value): $6,438,501,035.

Follow us here: We'll divide that total value of the district by $100,000, and then divide the $233 million burden by that number to figure out how the payments are spread out. You'll find that, for every $100,000 worth of taxable value in your property, you're responsible for $3,618.85 of the $233 million in high school bonds and interest.

But under the district's tentative plan to sell a series of 20-year bonds over the next four years, that amount would be spread out over a 23-year repayment period. So divide by 23: That comes out to $157.34 per year between 2015 and 2038.

Still with us? We just figured out the average per-year payment for the owner of a $100,000 home before exemptions.

Obviously, not every property in the district is assessed at that price, but you can use that number to figure out what you would owe: Just multiply by 1.5 for a $150,000 home ($236.01), double it for a $200,000 home ($314.68), or triple it for a $300,000 home ($472.02). This gets a touch more complicated when you start applying exemptions, but you get the idea.

Like we said, that's an average — there are a lot more variables involved. The district, for example, won't borrow all that money at the same time, so repayments will come at a staggered pace. And the taxable value of the district is unlikely to grow at such an even 1 percent-per-year rate — any faster, and the tax rate would go down; any slower, and it goes up.

The bottom line: The owner of a $100,000 home in Champaign, before exemptions, would owe $2,926 on their property-tax bill if the high school referendum passes. Roughly $1,583 of that (about 54 percent) would go straight to the school district.

Another notable number: School officials think, if the referendum passes, the bonds will add about 44 or 45 cents to the school district's current tax rate of $4.3014 per $100 of equalized assessed value, bringing the total to about $4.75. If the numbers work out the way school district budgeters think, the increase that would be brought on by the referendum should stay about constant throughout the repayment of the bonds.

How does that compare? Here are tax rates for a couple other central Illinois school districts:

— Bloomington District 87: $4.8349
— Normal Unit 5: $5.0070
— Peoria District 150: $5.0646
— Danville District 118: $5.3087
— Urbana District 116: $5.7630

How about the total for each city? It's about a 5.4 percent overall increase for Champaign's tax rate, which would go from $8.3368 in most areas to about $8.78. To compare, city of Urbana residents pay $10.462 in most areas.

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rsp wrote on August 13, 2014 at 7:08 am

Why give the amount in terms of a house that could sell for $300,000? How many do we have of those around here? That's confusing for people. Otherwise you wouldn't have had to go through this math lesson, right? ;)

Joe American wrote on August 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

Have you looked into the housing market any time in the past decade or so? I might suggest you step out of the bus occasionaly and look around some of the south and west neighborhoods in Champaign.  There is a relatively significant amount of homes priced in the $300,000 range. There isn't much on University east of James all the way to Randolph that you can touch for anything less, and houses in that range are peppered all along Church St. The house on the NE corner of University & McKinley was recently listed for $1,100,000. (That's $1.1 MILLION for those of you who can't figure out your tax liability based on the value of a $300,000 home.)

Many houses in the area bounded by Prospect, Kirby, Mayfair & Charles fall into that price range. So do many southwest of Kirby and Duncan, and nearly everything west of Staley.  A quick check on Zillow showed 21 houses for sale valued over $250,000, and those are only the ones for sale.


rsp wrote on August 13, 2014 at 10:08 am

Median sales price for Champaign for May to August '14 is $135,750. The ave. listing price is $199,195. Those figures are a long way from $300,000. Census lists the median owned home at $151,300. That number may be two years old. That would also be about half of $300,000.

fredtheduck wrote on August 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

Hang on, to get to the total assessed value in 23 years, assuming that you compound annually, and there's a growth rate of 1%, I think that it would be: x * (1 + r)^t, or in this case, $1.9 billion * 1.01^23.  That gives a result of $2,388,609,734.86, a market size of $7,165,829,204.58, and a burden of $3,251.54 per $100k of assessed value.  Did I miss something here?

Patrick Wade wrote on August 13, 2014 at 11:08 am
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You're correct that $2.389 billion is the expected EAV in the 23rd year, but what we did was take an average. We figured out what the EAV would be in each year (2015 to 2038), added it all up and divided by 23.

The average is a bit more accurate because it describes what you might expect to pay over the entire 23 years, not just in that 23rd year itself. Assuming everything else is equal, taxpayers could expect to pay a bit more than the average in the first year and a bit less in the last year as the EAV grows over time. But the average itself is a good descriptor of roughly what a homeowner might pay over the entire term.