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updated: 11/24/2017 10:05 AM

Mount Prospect advisory group ask zero tax levy hike

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Mount Prospect's finance commission, an advisory body, would like to see the village avoid a hike in the tax levy.

Commission Chairman John Kellerhals delivered the panel's recommendation of a zero percent increase as the village considers a 1.9 percent increase in the levy in its 2018 budget.

Kellerhals said Tuesday that Mount Prospect residents are feeling the financial squeeze of increases in the state income tax and increased property tax bills in the wake of reassessments. They also feel the threat of school referendums, as well as the federal government restricting or eliminating the deduction of real estate taxes.

"All of these changes make living in Mount Prospect more expensive, less affordable and less sustainable," he said.

He noted that the village's fund balances have been on the rise.

"My personal property taxes have increased nearly fivefold since I moved into the village in 1987," he said. "There is no other relevant financial measure that has increased fivefold during that time frame."

Mayor Arlene Juracek and the trustees, however, balked at the commission's recommendation, noting the economic threat to municipalities posed by actions of the state government that result in less revenue flowing to the village.

"Because of that risk, we need to be very careful," Juracek said. "We have to be careful that we don't just rush to a solution without analyzing our risk exposure over the longer term."

The village board is considering a proposed levy for property taxes of more than $19 million. To the owner of a home valued at $350,000, the hit would amount to an extra $20 on the village's estimated share of the total property tax bill, which is about $1,054.

Finance Director David Erb said the hit to the village's reserves from a zero increase would be $380,000. He said reserves are committed to capital expenses and subsidizing pensions. He also warned the state might pass a property tax freeze.

Trustee Richard Rogers said, "That 1.92 percent to the average homeowner is $20. That's not even a steak dinner."

He continued, "If you really want to reduce real estate taxes, you've got to go to where the money's at, and that's the school funds."

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