Community, Local

Park Forest Passes 2.8% Tax Levy Increase for 2015

property tax levy from pensions
A history of the property tax levy from pensions. (Graphic: VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village Board passed a 2.8% property tax levy increase Monday night.

The increase means a levy in excess of $16.6 million, and the ordinance spells it all out:

That the sum sixteen million six hundred seventy-four thousand four hundred twenty-three dollars and no cents ($16,674,423), being the total of budgeted amounts heretofore legally adopted and appropriated by Ordinance No. 2023, which are to be collected from the tax levy for the Fiscal Year of the Village of Park Forest, Cook and Will Counties, Illinois beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016, for all corporate purposes of said Village, including General  Purposes, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund Purposes, Police Pension Fund Purposes, Firefighters Pension Fund Purposes, FICA Fund Purposes, Public Library Fund Purposes,  Library IMRF Purposes and Library FICA Fund Purposes, as appropriated and budgeted for said Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016, passed by the Mayor and Board of Trustees of   said Village at its Regular Meeting held on the 22nd day of June 2015, be and the  same is hereby levied on all taxable property within the said Village of Park Forest, subject to taxation for said current fiscal year.

Fifty-eight percent of the fiscal year 2015/2016 budget is expected to be funded by property taxes from this proposed levy.

A Public Hearing on the tax levy was held at 7 p.m. at the December 9 board meeting. No members of the public commented.

The following table shows tax levy increases dating back to 1993:

1993 15.1%
1994 11.4%
1995 11.7%
1996 9.8%
1997 6.7%
1998 4.8%
1999 2.9%
2000* 2.9%
2001 2.9%
2002 2.9%
2003** 2.9%
2004 8.1%
2005 9.3%
2006* 2.6%
2007 3.3%
2008 3.0%
2009 6.0%
2010 3.1%
2011 3.4%
2012 2.7%
2013* 1.9%
2014 1.4%
2015 Proposed 2.8%

(Source: VOPF)

A total of $435,494 was also voted on to be abated. With tax increments, the abatement increases between $875,000 and $900,000. The abatement saves taxpayers roughly 7% on the levy.

Some municipalities play what amounts to a shell game every year, levying big and then rebating to taxpayers what they don’t spend. This appears to be pure politics, and it sometimes works, at least for those residents who only see a check and don’t pay attention to the math.

Park Forest has abated money not spent for several years now. If a contract comes in under budget, for example, the village does not run out and spend the money saved. Instead, the money is put toward the next year’s abatement.

Setting the tax levy is just one more step in the year-long process that will drive the formation and eventual passage of the next fiscal year’s budget.