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 RPS 205 Approves Flat Tax Levy for 8th Year; Rate Drops below $7

 11/26/2019

The Rockford Public Schools tax rate for 2019 has dropped 47 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation (EAV). That's the steepest drop since 2015. It also accomplishes a long-term goal for both the administration and Rockford School Board: to get the tax rate below $7 per $100 of EAV.

The School Board tonight approved a flat tax levy for the eighth consecutive year and agreed to levy below the district's allowable rate. The district plans to collect approximately $155 million from local tax revenue – the same amount as last year – to continue to provide much-needed relief to taxpayers. 

The School Board recommended a rate of $7.35 last year, compared to approximately $6.88 this year. The goal last year was to lower the tax rate to $7 as soon as possible:

Tax year                 Tax rate per $100 of EAV
2015                       $7.93
2016                       $7.80
2017                       $7.65
2018                       $7.35
2019                       $6.88

Dropping below $7 is a major achievement for Rockford, said School Board President Ken Scrivano. "We believe that taxes are too high in the state of Illinois, and this is really important to people who, in particular, are struggling," he said at the board meeting two weeks ago.

Every year there is additional money available that the district could collect because of new property and increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). But the School Board has agreed for the eighth consecutive year to allow taxpayers to keep that money instead of collecting it. RPS 205 has saved taxpayers $117 million in cost avoidance by keeping its levy flat. 

Superintendent Ehren Jarrett participated in a news conference in August with the City of Rockford, Rockford Township, Rockford Public Library, Rockford Airport and Rock Valley College to celebrate other taxing bodies who also kept their tax levies flat. School Board Vice President Tim Rollins lauded the administration earlier this month for keeping the levy flat – and for encouraging other taxing bodies to do the same. "As soon as we stop keeping our levy flat, that will give other taxing districts an excuse to also stop holding the line on their levies," Rollins said. "As long as we can provide that leadership, the better off we will be in Rockford."

Background: The School Board in 2011 agreed to lower the tax levy by $13 million – from $170 million to $157 million, following the end of a five-year commitment from the Kids Win campaign. The campaign raised the levy by 58 cents to make improvements to the schools. Instead of collecting $170 million from RPS 205 taxpayers, the district collected $157 million. The district has continued to collect at that lower level:

Year                       Amount requested
2012                       $158M  
2013                       $155M
2014                       $157M
2015                       $156M
2016                       $155M
2017                       $155M
2018                       $155M
2019                       $155M