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home : news : local   June 25, 2016

4/30/2014 2:26:00 AM
Meet the top 10 property taxpayers in Peru school district

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Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

The top 10 property taxpayers in Peru Elementary School District might surprise you. They also might confirm your hunches or appear downright confusing.

For example, Liberty Village is on this list, hidden behind the property names of record.

The list is part of Peru Elementary School District’s 2013 annual financial disclosure report. The 10 property owners account for 6.2 percent of the district’s total equalized assessed valuation.

Equalized assessed valuation is not the tax paid, but is one-third of the total property value and is used to calculate property taxes. Generally, higher valuation leads to higher property taxes. The list could just as well be labeled, “Top 10 property-rich owners.”

A few on the list might be unrecognizable. Even members of the Peru school board were scratching their heads on a couple.

Peru Becker Ltd. is a title-holding corporation in Galesburg. Frances House Inc. of Rockford provides care services to adults with disabilities. Both made the list because they are the names recorded for parcels of Liberty Village, which includes a nursing home, assisted living facilities, retirement apartments and homes in the area of Becker Drive and 31st Street, Peru.

Michelle Sommer, marketing director for Liberty Village, said she was not surprised that it was the top taxpayer. However, Sommer said she was unfamiliar with the names “Peru Becker Ltd.” and “Frances House Inc.”

A few others on the list require explanation as well.

Although St. Margaret’s Hospital is in Spring Valley, it has offices and clinics in Peru. LPRE Holdings represents Heritage Health-La Salle, a nursing home on Chartres Street south of Baker Lake. Huntsman is better known today as Flint Hills on Brunner Street along the Illinois River. Sherman Real Estate represents Sherman’s furniture store. W.H. Maze Co. represents the more-familiar Maze Nails and Maze Lumber.

Some readers might have expected to see more companies or properties from the north end of Peru. But school districts do not have the same boundaries as cities, and Peru Elementary School District’s boundary does not include all commercial development in north Peru.

For example, James Hardie Building Products, Peru Mall, Wal-Mart and Double D Warehouse in Peru each have equalized assessed valuations higher than Liberty Village. These properties are within Dimmick, not Peru, school district.

Property values have dropped in recent years, making it more challenging for districts to collect property taxes without raising rates on property owners.

“School districts are being forced more and more to rely on local tax dollars for funding because the state funding situation is not as it should be,” Peru schools Superintendent Mark Cross said. “We’ve seen a pretty sharp decrease in local property tax assessments and we hope this bottoms out soon and our tax base begins to reflect a recovering economy.”

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