Village Anticipates Minimal Property Tax Increase

New Lenox taxpayers benefit from medical facilities.

The New Lenox Village Board provided an overview of the upcoming property tax levy Monday night. The levy is expected to increase slightly.

The increase is expected to be minimal—about $10 for an average homeowner with a $200,000 house, according to Kim Auchstetter, village finance director. .

Last year, villagers also saw an increase that averaged $10 as well. However, the village saw $5.3 million in fresh growth in 2011.

This year, growth from new homes and medical facilities brought in to accommodate Silver Cross Hospital made up for only $1.8 million, said Auchstetter. 

Meanwhile, the equalized assessed value of New Lenox homes is estimated to be down about 5.5 percent compared to a 5 percent drop last year, said Auchstetter. The drop is due to the diminished value of homes in 2011. 

Overall, the village is expected to levy $2,448,552. That amount coincides with the state's 3 percent property tax extension limitation set for non-home rule municipalities.

Mayor Tim Baldermann said despite the village's two-year-old home rule status, which gives it the authority to tax at higher rates; this municipality is not going to exercise that right. 

"We made a promise" to voters that if they approved home rule status, the village would not invoke use the full breath of its taxing powers. Maintaining the 3 percent tax cap established for municipalities lacking home-rule status is part of that promise.    

The board is expected to vote on the tax levy at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at Village Hall.

At the meeting, Auchstetter said while she didn't have all the figures at hand, the bulk of the levy is used to pay for employee obligations. The police pension gets 33.56 percent of the money collected, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund gets 28.59 percent and FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions) gets 26.95 percent.

The other categories that are fed through the tax levy are: garbage and disposal along with the general fund and the state audit. All total, 89.1 percent of the levy is used to support the basic funds, said Auchstetter.

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Will County Resident November 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM
"The police pension gets 33.56 percent of the money collected, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund gets 28.59 percent and FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions) gets 26.95 percent." Why are my taxes being increased to support paying government workers pensions for the rest of their lives? Maybe the pensions and retirement payouts should be lowered instead of asking us for more. We've already seen what our mayor has done with the pension system in neighboring towns, and I fear it's going to happen to New Lenox soon if someone doesn't put their foot down and say no to these increases. Our homes just decreased in value 5.5% according to the county, but the New Lenox government is fit to increase our taxes instead of adjusting the pension and retirement budget like the rest of us have been forced to do. I haven't gotten a raise in over a year at my job, but our village employees never miss a cost of living adjustment when it comes to their benefits.
John Bohnsi November 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Unfortunately these unfunded mandates placed against all local governments are killing the homeowners. Springfield is broken and needs to be changed. We can not continue to let them dictate what levels of funding we should maintain locally. That merely puts all local governments in a position where they have to increase taxes each and every year to keep up with the laws they set. It is a very broken system. I am growing quite tired of this rhetoric. Our children have moved on and with just the two of us living and paying taxes locally, It is clearly time to find a very small town in another part of this great country to reside.
hazelgreen November 14, 2012 at 04:24 PM
How about they NOT build the police station right now.
Greg Trayer November 14, 2012 at 08:52 PM
The tax levy amounts are set by law each year according to actuarial analysis, and the Village cannot change what needs to go into the pension systems either. Adjustments cannot be made to these pension systems. These are not unfunded mandates, they are funded through taxes, as set by law in this state and every other state in the country. Local police, fire and employee pension systems are well funded and have nothing to do with the State of Illinois or the problems associated with the state funded retirement systems. These employees were hired with the understanding that they would receive their government funded pension, just like everyone else was hired with the understanding that they would receive money towards their 401k and/or other associated private retirement account. Often, these private workers also get to share in a companies successes, through bonuses, profit sharing and stock options. These perks are not available to government workers. When the economy was in over drive and private citizens were enjoying double digit raises, government workers did not get paid exponentially more just because their city took in more revenue. I can't speak for all the government workers, teachers, judges and legislators out there, but let's leave the cops and firemen alone. If anyone deserves to receive a pension it is the men and women that provide public safety services. Thanks
joseph November 14, 2012 at 11:48 PM
So if in your first line you state "The tax levy amounts are set by law each year according to actuarial analysis, and the Village cannot change what needs to go into the pension systems" Is that not essentially what John is saying? Their hands are tied because of some actuarial analysis. Who is that actuarial analysis set up by? Springfield? Washington?
Greg Trayer November 15, 2012 at 05:01 AM
The local pension board conducts the analysis. The Village appoints members to this board, who are citizens of New Lenox. Active duty and retired employees are also on the board, as are professional fund managers and actuaries. They examine the fund and tell the Village how much they need to contribute each year. The levy is simply the yearly contribution to the fund, just like a company would contribute a different amount each year to an employee's 401k account based on its revenues. The difference here is the citizenry is responsible for paying for this contribution. That's how we pay for government services, through taxes.
Greg Trayer November 15, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Remember, the typical government pension is funded mostly by employee contributions and investment returns, with the tax levy only a small portion of the large pool of money invested. John doesn't really understand the problem, but I can't fault him because he's being fooled by the media that continue to beat up on STATE pension funds. These funds - teachers, state employees, university employees, legislators and judges - are all messed up because of years of mismanagement. There have been many problems associated with these funds, including spiking. However, one of the biggest problems include years and years where the State of Illinois did not make required contributions, pushing the funds to the point where they might fail in the future. This is why New Lenox performs a levy, to make the required contribution so their funds stay solvent. Don't associate state funded pensions with local Municipal systems. And keep in mind that we need to pay for the services we receive as residents of any town. Even that "very small town" you imagine yourself going to John.
jill S. November 15, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Greg, You seem to know a bit about this. What do you see happening now that Springfield wants to push the pension debts to the local school boards? Won't that make our taxes go up a ton? I can handle a minimal tax increase of a few dollars, but 500 or 600?
Greg Trayer November 16, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Jill, I'm personally divided on that one. While I think it's the right move to shift the pension burden to the local taxing district, I don't see how they can do that without a dramatic increase in property taxes and/or drastic cuts to school budgets. Either one will hurt us as residents. I have seen proposals to phase in the pension shift over 10, 12 or 15 years, which could make the increased taxes easier to handle. It should have been like that in the beginning, with residents of a school district paying for their own teacher pensions. I think it would have made it more difficult for school districts to spike teacher pensions if they were responsible for a much smaller pool of money. Right now we pay taxes that contribute to the fund covering all the teachers in the state, with the exception of CPS. Watch this lame duck session coming up for some sort of move to be made. It will either be a substantial change or something they are going to pretend is reform. Let's cross our fingers and hope the calmer voices prevail.


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