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Village Vision News

Trustees vote to raise levy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preliminary discussions of the Village’s 2011 tax levy took twists and turns during recent Board meetings. Trustee Eric Morr voiced his opposition to raising the levy while trustee Larry Reed reminded trustees that any decision on raising or lowering the levy should take into consideration the Village’s obligation to repay the Village’s more than $5 million in outstanding loans to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for past sanitary sewer projects. Reed noted that Village reserves make less than a half percent in interest.

Ultimately trustees voted 3 to 2 in favor of increasing the Village’s tax levy by the 4.9% maximum percentage allowed without requiring a separate public hearing. Trustees Steve Hubbard and Eric Morr cast the dissenting votes; trustee Kerstin Trachtenberg was absent from the meeting. Morr, who was on a business trip and was the first trustee to employ the Village’s new remote attendance ordinance, reasoned that the Village did not need the $26,000, an amount he projected would result from the levy increase. The subject of paying off a portion of the outstanding IEPA loans drew a recommendation from Village Treasurer Rhonda Stewart: “Trustees may want to consider spending some of the Village’s reserves [to pay down the loans] due to the fact that the interest rate on the IEPA loans is higher compared to the bank interest rate for the funds in reserve.”

Village Administrator Heather Kimmons said Stewart and staff have worked diligently to prepare documentation to show trustees how raising or lowering the tax levy affects the typical taxpayer.

“All aspects of the levy have been researched. I believe it’s the most comprehensive review of levying principles the Board has seen in a long time,” Kimmons noted.

Staff research has shown there are nine different tax-coded areas within the Village, each with a different combination of taxing districts, taxable value and total rates. The Village’s share is a small portion of the tax bill – less than 5 percent of a taxpayer’s overall bill, according to Kimmons.

“Staff recommendation is that the levy be raised by 4.9 percent as has been done for the past 13 years,” Kimmons said. Additionally, she said best management practices support the recommendation to grow the levy. “If something happens to sales tax, we would be in a world of hurt … property tax revenue only covers a small fraction of our budgeted operating expenses,” she added.

Mayor Hap Gilbert said he does not anticipate a serious drop in sales tax revenues but the possibility exists. He said the Village has kept ahead in scheduling its capital projects and could survive a downturn in sales tax as a result. “We need to gradually grow the tax levy so the net effect on the homeowner is a level real estate tax from the Village’s portion of the tax,” he concluded.

Trustees are expected to set the tax levy with an ordinance at their Nov. 21 meeting.

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