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North Aurora officials: we can’t afford less than maximum levy

Updated: November 16, 2012 6:06AM

NORTH AURORA — A steep drop in the village’s tax base value will force officials to levy the full amount of property taxes that state law will allow this year, members of the Finance Committee decided Monday.

The village’s equalized assessed valuation fell by nearly $32.5 million, from $496.3 million to $465.6 million – a 6.18 percent drop. That decline is despite the addition of $1.75 million in new construction, said Finance Director Bill Hannah. To capture all taxes owed on that new construction, as well as the 3 percent cost of living hike allowed by the Illinois tax cap law, officials plan to levy $2.2 million – the same as it levied last year – and expect to receive about $2.1 million, which would be 3.39 percent higher than the property tax it received this year for 2011’s taxes.

Keeping the tax levy at last year’s amount after property values have fallen will raise the village’s property tax rate by an estimated 9.75 percent, Hannah said. That prompted a proposal by trustee Laura Curtis to rebate part of the levy to give homeowners a break.

“Why do we need to take the full 3 percent?” Curtis asked. “We ended our fiscal year in the black ... which will boost sales tax revenues. Maybe we should pass some of that along to the residents.”

Cutting back the tax levy would give homeowners a small tax break now while risking the village’s financial stability in the future, countered trustees Chris Faber and Vince Mancini. Because of the tax cap limits, lowering this year’s levy could reduce how much the village could raise taxes in every year thereafter, Faber said.

“We’re handcuffed by a crappy system. We can’t afford to give up an increase,” he said.

“We have aging employees, so salaries and pensions are up. We need to preserve our funding source to keep meeting those expenses,” Mancini said. “If we have another recession, we’re going to be strapped and we’ll have to do layoffs.”

The vast majority of residents’ tax bills go to West Aurora School District 129 and Batavia School District 101, both of which are levying as much as possible to make up shortfalls in state education funding, Faber pointed out.

“We can’t control what the schools are going to cost taxpayers, so we have very little control over the total tax bill,” he said.

All three committee members agreed that North Aurora needs to build its commercial and industrial tax bases. Those sectors, which pay higher property tax rates than homeowners do, comprise about 20 percent of the village’s total tax base.

“We get such a small smidgen of the total property tax bills, but we can’t afford to lose that smidgen until we have a large industrial base like Schaumburg, Oak Brook and Addison do,” Mancini said.

The Village Board is scheduled to discuss the property tax levy and set a Dec. 3 public hearing on it at the Oct. 15 meeting.

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