Oswego considers holding line on tax levy
BY LINDA GIRARDI For Sun-Times Media October 3, 2013 6:44PM
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:26AM
Oswego trustees are discussing whether to keep the property tax levy the same, as it has done in the previous two years.
On Tuesday, staff presented to the Committee of the Whole options for the 2013 property tax levy that include either maintaining or increasing the 2013 property tax levy.
The village has levied $1,216,000 the past two years to reduce the burden on property taxpayers.
Mark Horton, Oswego director of finance, said this has caused the tax rate to drop slightly in 2011 and then increase in 2012 as a result of decreases in the village’s equalized assessed valuation.
Horton said the village has used the property tax collections to fund the required contribution to the Police Pension Fund and supplement the village’s required contribution to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
Horton said taxpayers on average would notice a negligible decrease in the village portion of their property taxes if the levy is maintained as in the past two years and the EAV decreases by 4.25 percent.
He said if the 2012 tax rate is kept the same, the village would have to decrease the levy by almost $52,000 or 4.25 percent. He said on average, the taxpayer would notice a $3-7 decrease in village taxes. He said general operating revenues would have to support part of the police pension fund with that scenario.
If the village increases the levy to fully fund the pension costs, the levy would have to be increased by $257,065 over last year. Taxpayers on average would notice a $14 to $36 increase on the village portion of their taxes, Horton said.
The village’s portion is about 1.5 percent of a property owner’s total tax bill, officials said.
Trustee Scott Volpe said he likes the option of keeping the village’s property tax the same and having homeowners see a slight decrease because there have been year-to-year increases in other revenues, such as the sales and Home Rule sales tax revenues.
Trustee Gail Johnson said she was concerned decreasing the levy would “handicap” future boards. “I am not comfortable putting all of our apples in one cart, especially with the state (economy) being so volatile right now,” Johnson said. “Truthfully, in most people’s pockets $3-7 isn’t going to make that much difference,” she said.
“We would still see our levy amount increase as the economy rebounds. For years we have worried about what happens about next year, we built ourselves a healthy reserve,” Volpe said.
“I am hesitant to say the sky is falling, I think it will get better and our year-to-year revenues will continue to go up,” Volpe added.
“We have not done anything to encourage residential or economic growth, I am not sure we can continue to count on that and I am not willing to risk future revenue streams for a cost of a latte,” Trustee Pam Parr said.