Archive for November, 2012

Pensions & TIF in DeKalb

Except in the case of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, DeKalb’s property taxes go toward pensions and FICA almost exclusively, and its share of your annual property tax bill is about 7%. Using these facts along with TIF revenue data, I set out to estimate how much city property tax flows into TIF funds that might otherwise have gone to city pensions.

Tax
Year
Property taxes
collected for
the TIF funds
DeKalb's share
of the TIF take
(7%)
20118,534,686597,428
20108,623,696603,658
20099,009,434630,660
20088,975,821628,307
20078,020,188561,413
20066,613,284462,930
20055,626,939393,885
20044,614,715323,030
20034,254,124297,788
20023,931,059275,174
20013,549,132248,439
20003,460,446242,231
Total$75,213,524$5,264,943

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In “DeKalb Gives First Approval to Property Tax Levy,” we get this:

The aldermen had previously set the ceiling for a property tax levy at $9.67 million, and were given two options by city staff to set the request at either $9.67 million or $9.63 million – the amount the city levied last year.

According to the Chronicle, the city council appears to support the higher levy, and the rate would go up, too, to about 79 cents. Anything else?

The city uses property tax revenue to fund pensions of city staff, police officers and firefighters. The $9.67 million request would be able to fund all the police and fire pensions, and 45 percent of the pensions of city staff. The other 55 percent will have to be made up from one of the city’s other funds, she said.

Let us summarize (using both today’s Chronicle story and Monday’s CB post.)

  • As a rule, city property tax collected ONLY goes to city pensions.

  • The property tax levy will probably go up for tax year 2012.

  • As the levy goes up, the rate will go up, too — about 7 cents.

  • A 7-cent hike would probably set a record.

  • Despite a probable record hike — and the investment gains we showed you Monday — it’s said we still need to put more money up front to cover rising costs.

Read the rest of this entry

The agendas for the council meetings tonight include a public hearing about setting the city’s property tax levy, which they must think will be controversial because you must wade through 112 pages of the PDF file to get to the related items (also see page 114).

I was surprised to find out that the levy request is the same as last year, because it said in the newspaper that the rate was once again expected to go up significantly. Having to raise the rates repeatedly to keep the take the same is bad news. It reminds me of the utility tax problem. Some communities are beginning to recover, but not DeKalb, it seems.

Here’s one area where we ARE bouncing back, though:

dyerware.com


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Chronicle staff should live in this county for awhile before commenting on certain issues, such as what one can find today in “Our View: Falling home values a trying trend in county“.

When the housing market was healthy and new homes and businesses were built at a healthy clip, the opposite was true. Property values grew faster than the rate of inflation, property tax rates fell, and along with them, the tax cap led to decreases in annual tax property tax bills.

The person who has seen her property taxes rise on a modest home since 1993, some years by HUNDREDS more, is somewhat irritated to hear the Chronicle try to tell her otherwise.

Still, let’s stick to the facts. Here are the property tax rates and levies for the City of DeKalb* for each tax year since 2000:

2000 – 0.50490, $1,892,659
2001 – 0.52989, $2,121,088
2002 – 0.60566, $2,514,566
2003 – 0.59666, $2,600,088
2004 – 0.60000, $2,738,052
2005 – 0.59302, $3,022,165
2006 – 0.59672, $3,400,147
2007 – 0.60000, $3,742,937
2008 – 0.60000, $3,875,130
2009 – 0.65000, $4,185,457
2010 – 0.68990, $4,196,889
2011 – 0.72052, $4,197,062

Rates never fell during this period. Why? Because tax caps don’t apply to Home Rule communities.

Let’s do another one. Read the rest of this entry

In a story that appears to be designed to make us feel ashamed about questioning the destruction of recreation space that has become important to the community (I’ll comment further on the land swap deal another time), the Chronicle drops in this tidbit:

About that pool: Although the DeKalb Park District won’t be building the aquatic center complex envisioned in 2010, Capek said there is a plan to fix the pool at Hopkins Park.

The pool there now was built almost 40 years ago and is nearing the end of its useful life. The park district pursued a grant for the work, but missed out in the face of stiff competition, Capek said.

“The board made the commitment to do that within existing financing,” Capek said. “The project will move forward at end of pool season in 2014 and they hope to have it open for the 2015 season.”

Unlike the old plan, this time park officials plan to save money from their annual bond issue to put toward the pool improvements. The new pool will fit within the footprint of the existing pool, Capek said.

The park board has agreed to allow staff to stat moving forward with the project, and it should be discussed more at the park board’s budget meeting Dec. 6, Capek said.

It so happens that the McHenry County Blog has just explained well this lovely loophole that park districts have made an annual ritual: Read the rest of this entry

The agenda for tomorrow’s city council meetings is here. Now, it finally becomes apparent* that the $6 million they’ve got stockpiled in the TIF 2 fund is mostly going to go into the Municipal Building. Of course, the use of TIF money for this purpose will bring in all kinds of new private development and tax revenues…somehow…right?

Also up for consideration at first reading are changes to the housing ordinances (see PDF pp. 39-40. As previously discussed, the main problem with the proposals (besides the costs) is the blurring of police functions with code enforcement functions. Such disregard for roles and boundaries will come to no good and I’m quite surprised the police department seems willing to risk its reputation with a mess like this.

At any rate, the DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA) has sent another letter to the administration about these ordinances. I’ll place it after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

First off, I want to follow up on the question of repealing home rule in Mt. Vernon. Voters defeated the challenge, meaning home rule is retained. High profile business backers, a core group of “Vote No” volunteers plus use of social media are credited with the success.

While the Mt. Vernon pro-home rule group won with 57% of the vote, there was a veritable smackdown by 70% of voters of the proposition to make the city clerk’s office in DeKalb an appointed one. It’s difficult not to look at this as a referendum on city administration, and on the performance of city manager Mark Biernacki in particular. Let him laugh at the suggestion that the ballot question was an attempted power grab — that doesn’t make it untrue.

With the retention of an elected city clerk, congenitally optimistic residents like me can hope for a real watchdog in the position.

Lastly, I’d like to note that City Barbs is now seven years old.

Treat this as an open thread if you like. Name yer topic.

In “Time to Dump Landfill Protests,” the Chronicle lays out reasons for trashing the efforts of the little people.

Reason 1:

There’s nowhere else for the anti-landfill group to turn short of the Illinois Supreme Court, which might decline to hear the case.

Stop the Mega Dump should quit because the Supremes might reject it? WTH?

Reason 2:

It’s understandable that an expansion that would allow the landfill to accept as many as 2,000 tons of trash a day would be unpopular. At some point, however, the community and the company should be allowed to move forward.

Yeah, like maybe after an attempt at a Supreme Court appeal. What’s the rush, Chronicle?

Reason 3:

The impact of the expansion has not been felt. Waste Management has assured residents that a larger landfill will not endanger their health and safety.

Wow, great show of healthy journalistic skepticism.

More importantly, though, the newspaper is in effect trashing STMD’s contention that the process of approving the expansion was so fundamentally flawed, the threats to public health such as hydrogen sulfide emissions, groundwater contamination and vulnerabilities to seismic activity were never seriously examined and considered. Read the rest of this entry