BRADLEY — For every action there is always a reaction.
In this case, St. George school district taxpayers will be forced to pick up the nearly $22,000 tab as a result of Bradley’s pending purchase of the former Carson’s men’s store in the Northfield Square mall.
St. George Superintendent Helen Boehrnsen explained that the removal of the building from the tax rolls — as it will become the property of the Bradley municipal government — will not result in the school district losing money. Rather, she said, district taxpayers will be forced to make up the loss for its tax levy.
The owner of a $200,000 house within the school district will see their taxes increase by about $20 per year.
The district is reliant on homeowners to fund its $4.6 million budget as only 9 percent of its Equalized Assessed Valuation comes from commercial property.
About another 8 percent of its local funding comes from farms. The remaining comes from homeowners.
The district, which has 61 full- and part-time employees for its 450 elementary students, has a budget of $4.9 million when the $9 million of construction bonds are taken out of it. Property taxes fund about 59 percent of the district’s budget.
“I know that $20 figure may not seem like that much, but that’s $20 a year until that lost money can be replaced,” she said.
Unfortunately for St. George schools, the Carson’s men’s store is the only property within Northfield Square mall which is within its taxing boundaries. The former Hidden Cove Sportsplex property also was within the district boundary, but when it become the possession of Adventure Christian Church, 70 Ken Hayes Drive, much of that property also came off the tax rolls.
“Those were our two largest commercial properties, and we’ve lost them both,” she said.
The Carson’s store actually was generating fewer tax dollars on its own. For the 2017 tax year, which was payable in 2018, the property generated $30,774 for the school. The following year, it had dropped to $21,900 as the store had closed.
Bradley Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson said he met with Boehrnsen on Thursday and toured the school. Watson said it’s not the village’s intention to harm the school.
“I’m optimistic some solutions can be found,” Watson said.
The store had been purchased from the mall owner, Namdar Real Estate, by Tower Bourbonnais in 2015 for $1.47 million. Bradley purchased the property for about $350,000 less.
The remaining portions of the mall rest in the Bradley Elementary school district. The area also is within the Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School district boundary and other local units of government as well.
Watson said the pending purchase of the store had nothing to do with which taxing district it resided in.
Bradley has negotiated a purchase price of $1.1 million as it is buying the property. The village has stated it is eyeing turning the approximate 80,535-square-foot store into a convention center, although that plan is fall from finalized.
“We have a wonderful school. This is a great place to be,” the superintendent said. “And we understand something needs to happen to revitalize that area. I understand that, but when something comes off the tax rolls, it does have an effect on others. The pie starts to shrink.”
Obviously, Boehrnsen had hoped the property could have been revitalized and remained a taxpaying entity. The Bradley Village Board, however, saw a mall with three of its four anchor store locations vacant and felt it was time for government to step in to help bring the mall back to life.
For now, St. George will rely more on its homeowners to continue supporting the school.
“We need these resources to continue to support a 21st century education. It’s also important to our residents that we keep as much on our tax rolls as we can,” she said.