Monday night was a public hearing at which residents had the opportunity to say yae or nay or otherwise voice their concerns about the city’s plan to keep it’s portion of residents’ property tax bills unchanged in the coming year.
What it boils down to this year, St. Charles Finance Director Chris Minick told the City Council, is that for a fourth year in a row, city homeowners on average will pay no more in taxes on the city’s portion of the property tax bill than they did a year ago. The caveat is that because the market values of homes have declined 5.2 percent, the city’s portion of the property tax rate will increase 5.2 percent.
“The impact … is that we expect no change in the city portion of our average residents’ property tax bill for 2012, as compared to 2011,” Minick said.
Mayor Donald DeWitte pointed out, however, that for those who saw their homes’ market values drop by less than 5.2 percent, property taxes will increase, just as those who saw their homes’ market values drop by more than 5.2 percent will see the city portion of their property tax bill decrease.
Minick confirmed DeWitte was correct.
The bottom line is that the equalized assessed valuation of the property in St. Charles has dropped about $75 million — from $1.46 billion in 2011 to about $1.384 billion in 2012. From a historical perspective, the city’s 2011 equalized assessed valuation of $1.46 billion is about the same as it was in 2006, before the advent of the Great Recession. The 2012 figure, he said is about the same as the city’s equalized assessed valuation in 2005.
“So you can see the impact the Great Recession has had on those property values,” Minick said.
Monday’s public hearing cleared the way for the City Council’s final adoption of the levy and municipal budget in December.
The 2012 tax levy request, Minick said, totals $22,744,252 — about $1 million more than the 2011 preliminary levy request made a year ago. That, he said, is 4.6 percent increase from 2011 and is largely due to an increase in the city’s debt service levy from $9.2 million to $10.2 million.
Minick said the operational levy, which brings in much of the city’s general fund revenue, will be frozen at about $12 million in 2012 — the fourth year in a row the city has done so. The city implemented the freeze in 2009.
The levy includes police and fire pension funds — $1.3 million for the police pension fund, and about $1 million for the fire pension. Another $1.7 million in the fiscal 2014 budget, Minick said, is the city’s contribution to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. However, he added the money going into the latter fund come from the general revenue stream for the city, not the tax levy.
In regard to the debt service levy — Minick has said before that the city is required to have a levy to have a dedicated source of funding to repay its general obligation bond debt. But, he said, the city plans to waive, or abate that levy again in January, following the past several years’ practice, and use general fund revenues to make payments on the debt. Minick said he will bring a series of ordinances before the council in January. The ordinances would abate the debt service portion of the levy.
General obligation bonds generally are used to fund capital construction such as infrastructure projects.
Minick said that to this point, he has been talking specifically about the city’s portion of residents’ property tax bills. Looking at the total tax bill in 2011, he said:
St. Charles Community Unit School District received about 63 percent of the revenue;
The city of St. Charles received about 10.4 percent of the total bill;
The rest was divvied up among other tax districts, such as the St. Charles Park District, the St. Charles Public Library District, the township, Elgin Community College, Kane County, the Kane County Forest Preserve District, and a cemetery district.