When it comes to government bodies, a discussion concerning tax cuts usually comes in response to the idea of tax increases. And vice versa.
But that isn't how the Tinley Park Village Board works.
Even with major expenditures in the future for Tinley Park, trustees and village officials debated at its Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, Nov. 27, whether to hold the village's 2012 property tax levy at its current rate—$1.202, with a request of about $19.39 million—or decrease it slightly as a symbolic gesture to homeowners of the village government's financial commitment to frugality.
READ: Tinley Park Sees Almost 50% Yearly Jump in October Home Sales
Ultimately, the board recommended freezing the levy, with the majority of members wanting to play it conservatively given some of the financial uncertainties looming on the horizon, such as an estimated $5 million program over eight to 10 years to deal with village trees infested by the emerald ash borer.
"[Freezing the levy] was the way I thought we could maintain, I think, our flexibility in terms of budgeting in the future and basically give the tax payers a break this year," said Trustee Dave Seaman, who chairs the finance and economic development committee.
The proposed levy will be read at the board's Dec. 4 meeting and voted on at the Dec. 18 meeting. Because the proposal isn't an increase of 5 percent or more, the board does not have to hold a public hearing on it.
LOCAL VOICES: A Homeowner Asks Why This Year's Property Tax Bill is So High
Trustee Greg Hannon suggested decreasing the 2012 levy request to an even $19 million, making up the difference from an expected village budget surplus of about $1.7 million in 2013. It was an idea that had vocal support from Village Clerk Patrick Rea, who doesn't have a vote on the board.
"I can tell you there is a very compelling reason to reduce the levy: to send a message to our taxpayers, both corporate and private, while we're not going to make a big difference because we're less than 10 percent of their taxes on property, we are prepared to share with them, to be extremely parsimonious," he said during the meeting.
"We can share a little bit of the pain," he added. "This government can do that."
Rea emphasized that such a decrease would be symbolic, given how little the village's levy affects Tinley Park homeowners' overall property tax bill. Theoretically, the cut could save taxpayers $8 to $28 on the village portion of their taxes. However, the overall bill could be higher than the previous year, depending on the assessed value of the house and the levies of other taxing bodies, such as school districts.
READ: Take a Look at the Board's Discussion Around Last Year's Property Tax Levy
"Quite frankly, that's a compelling argument. … I guess I'd play it more conservatively," Mayor Ed Zabrocki said of a proposed decrease.
"The only argument I would make here is if we do that this year, what's the implication for this year or the following year? Will that have to be made up? You've got a grace period for a year, but do you kick that can down [the road]? We don't do that."
The 2012 tax levy for the Tinley Park Public Library also was discussed at Tuesday's meeting. Like the village levy, it will keep the same rate for 2012 that it had for 2012.
Here's a breakdown of the proposed 2012 property tax levy for the Village of Tinley Park and the Tinley Park Public Library:Levy Requested Dollars Change Percent Change Projected Tax Rate Village $19,391, 281 0 0 $1.202 Library $5,561,944 $11,100 0 $0.345
SOURCE: Village of Tinley Park
YOUR TURN: What do you think about freezing the property tax levy? How will this affect your bill? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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