Glenbard schools chief fights for higher taxes, but not his own
Glenbard School District 87 Superintendent David Larson has been an aggressive advocate of raising Glen Ellyn property taxes to increase spending on the public schools he runs.
As for his own property taxes – he lives at 704 Chidester St. in Glen Ellyn Springs, a subdivision on the village's north side – Larson thinks they are far too high.
Larson is appealing to Milton Township Assessor Chris LeVan to lower his bill, now $23,871 per year, by 40 percent. He says LeVan overvalued his home, assessing it at $948,785 when Larson believes it is worth just $672,000, or what he paid for it in August 2016.
The DuPage Board of Review will hear Larson's complaint on Oct. 26.
Larson wouldn't return a request for comment. But LeVan told DuPage Policy Journal that he stands by his valuation and that he "couldn't imagine from where (the appeal) is coming."
“If (Larson) can show us that our property description is wrong, we’ll change it,” LeVan said. But he said the value set is “absolutely in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.”
LeVan alluded to a dispute between Larson and the township assessor's office and his fellow neighbor-taxpayers, who claim the superintendent quietly did a significant renovation of the home without receiving permits from the Village of Glen Ellyn.
LeVan said he and his staff could also tell work had been done on the house, even though no permits had been pulled.
According to a letter obtained by the Freedom of Information Act, Larson told the Milton Township assessor's office at a meeting in May that his four-bedroom, three-bath, originally listed for sale at $738,000, was "uninhabitable and in serious need of repair" when he purchased it nine months earlier.
LeVan asked to see the home, requesting a "quick 15 minute interior inspection" as well as "updated pictures both inside and outside."
But the superintendent never responded to his request.
“They have every right not to allow us into the house, but it's not going to go over very well at the (DuPage Board of Review) hearing,” LeVan said.
Among the reasons LeVan says he wanted to conduct an inspection: to ensure that no other properties (unless in the same condition) would use that specific property as a comparable.
“They might not like what they have to pay on it, but neither do 44,000 other homeowners in the township,” LeVan said.
According to LeVan, "our office should have been aware if property was in ‘poor’ condition and it would have been assessed accordingly."
Curiously, the previous owners of the "Nantucket-style" home, built in 2001, had never requested a tax reduction on account of its being in disrepair.
In fact, a 2014 MLS listing described the home as having "great potential" and "just (needing) a little TLC." But a review of listing photos suggests these comments allude to its somewhat outdated decor, not the home's condition.
The township posted the 2017 assessments on its web site in mid-August. Homeowners then had 30 days to file an appeal.
If Larson loses at the DuPage Board of Review, he has the right to appeal to the Property Tax Appeal Board.
In March, Larson published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune slamming private schools as inferior for "hiring younger teachers with no promise of permanent employment."
"This 'cheap labor' results in eroding the status and prestige of the teaching profession," he wrote.
Larson said parents who choose private schools are "weakening" and "fragmenting" their communities and "(eroding) the foundation of our ... democratic society," especially those who choose them for "religious or sectarian factors."
These parents should be chastised, Larson argued, for "(placing) a greater value on personal choice than the importance of equity, commonality and public accountability," presumably to leaders of monopoly public school systems like him.
Larson joined District 87 in 2012, moving from a school district in suburban Detroit. Earlier this year, his contract with the school district was extended for five years and his salary increased from $240,465 to $252,500 per year, before his taxpayer-funded pension contribution.