4.32 percent tax increase proposed


By Ryan Ocasio

City Council is looking to increase DeKalb’s property tax rate by 4.32 percent after discussing three options for the increase with the Finance Advisory Committee Thursday.

Property tax paid by residents of DeKalb is used to pay for city employee social security obligations, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, police pension and fire pension, according to the City Council agenda.

The tax rate has increased over the last five years because of a consistent drop in the city’s equalized assessed value, or how much property is worth, and not due to the city increasing property tax dollars. Between 2013 and 2014, the city’s equalized assessed value dropped 4.14 percent, according to the meeting agenda.

Finance Director Cathy Haley presented three options for how much the city could increase its tax levy. Option A would increase property tax by 9.91 percent, option B would increase the property tax by 6.34 percent and option C would increase the property tax by 4.32 percent. There would be a $480,424 increase to general fund revenue with option A and a $310,024 increase with option B. Option C would result in a $71,797 decrease to the general fund even if the city took out police and fire pensions, Haley said.

Third ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash spoke on behalf of residents who feared a property tax increase. Lash said she realizes some who are already struggling financially would not be able to keep up with the possible tax increase.

“I have had quite a few comments from people who live paycheck to paycheck, from people who live on fixed incomes, who are saying $50 a year is too much; $100 a year is too much,” Lash said. “They’re not just looking at that percentage.”

Haley said that the property tax people pay is based on the value of the house. One example shown on the City Council agenda said a home worth $100,000 would pay $359, which is $32 more than how much would have been due from 2013.

During the meeting, Lash asked if the city could possibly maintain the current levy while still capturing growth.

Mike Peddle, Finance Advisory Committee chairman, said the city would lose about $300,000 if it were to keep the levy the same. Knowing the city would lose money if the levy remained the same, the option to do so was eliminated by the City Council and the Finance Advisory Committee.

There is an updated version of the levy proposals on the city website, cityofdekalb.com, with revised options. The first reading of the levy will be on Nov. 24 along with a public hearing. The second reading and projected approval date is Dec. 8.