Park Forest Tax Levy to Rise a Bit, or Much More Than a Bit

2018 tax levy pie graph
According to information supplied by the Village, in 2018, property taxes funded a full 60% of the tax levy. (Photo: VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- How much will Village taxes increase in Park Forest with the next levy? The tax levy could increase modestly, or Park Foresters could see the highest tax levy increase in almost a decade — not exactly in line with campaign promises during the last election.

Board members received a financial update on November 2, 2019. According to Deputy Village Manager/Finance Director Mark Pries, after examining the data, board members did not arrive at a consensus at that meeting.

“Options were discussed to have a levy increase between 0.3% and 4.26% with additional discussion coming at a future Board meeting,” Director Pries told eNews Park Forest.

Let’s run down some of that data.

First, the Village does not collect all taxes it is owed. Some don’t pay.

From the Financial Update package:

Property Taxes recorded represent 93% of budget. Actual revenue represents the second installment of 2017 and the first installment of 2018 which is now billed at 55%, for Cook County, of the prior year total. Worth noting is the reduction in collection of the extended levy that began with the 2013 tax levy where collection rates decreased from 92% to 90%. In 2014 and 2015, collections recovered slightly to 91%. However, the 2016 and 2017 levy collections decreased significantly to 86.3% and 81.26%, respectively, which may have been the result of the protests of 2017’s reassessments by Cook County. Staff will monitor collections throughout FY 2020 and if the trend of decreased collections continues, Staff will notify the Board. Past reasons for declines were properties in transition including “Zombie Properties” (properties which are tax delinquent and banks have not foreclosed), other tax delinquent properties and properties acquired by the Village and not yet designated as tax exempt.

In Recreation and Parks, the Aqua Center required more funding from the Village than anticipated, showing a net loss of $322,060 vs. the budgeted $306,272, “However, this was due to a very wet start to the season, with June seeing rain the majority of the month. Also, winter lasted much longer than normal which noticeably impacted season pass revenues,” the Financial Update reports.

There is good news on the DownTown TIF:

TIF revenues allowed the Village to fully abate $1 ,164,923 in TIF debt related property taxes from the 2018 levy. The TIF debt will be paid in full by the end of FY 2020, which means it no longer has any impact on the Village’s tax levy or future budgets.

Emphasis in original Financial Update.

More from the Financial Update:

By law, the Village must adopt an estimated tax levy no less than 20 days before the adoption of the tax levy. Therefore, an estimated tax levy resolution will be on the November 18 meeting agenda for adoption. First reading of the 2019 Tax Levy is scheduled for November 25. A public hearing is required for the first Board meeting in December with the final levy adopted at the regular meeting on December 9. The Board has historically chosen to begin discussion of the tax levy at this time as part of strategic planning in order to have a full picture of the financial position of the Village. The 2020/2021 Budget will be funded by the 2019 levy. The tax levy consists of six separate categories.

These categories include General Corporate, Bonds & Interest, IMRF, FICA, the Police Pension, and the Fire Pension.

TAX LEVY SUMMARY

 Original
2018 Levy
Extended
2018 Levy
Proposed
2019 Levy
General Corporate$12,042,671$12,343,598 $12,613,598
Bonds & Interest263,500274,483274,48
IMRF574,572588,958596,086
FICA525,159538,316515,647
Police Pension2,084,3762,136,4842,454,378
Fire Pension1,352,1911,385,9841,550,090
Village Levy$16,842,469$17,267,823$18,004,282
Proposed Increase over Extended Levy:4.26%$736,459

At the financial update, staff presented the board with two options. The first suggests that the Village not fund police and fire pensions at 100% but rather at 90%, a combined savings of $ 391, 038. This comes with a warning, “However, staff believes if any reduction to the pension fund levies is made, taking only 50% of the reduction to each pension fund is the financially prudent method to take as this mitigates the impact of future increases to the levies for the pension funds,” Director Pries said in the Financial Update document. “Therefore the reduction to the Police Pension fund would be $106,980 ($213 960/2) and the reduction to the Fire Pension fund would be $88,539 ($177,078/2). This results in a reduction to the 2019 levy in the amount of $195,519.”

The second option, in conjunction with the first, would mean reducing Health Insurance to 7% and other expenditures like employee training, professional services, and operating supplies.

“A 2% increase is roughly an amount consistent with inflation which allows departments expenditures in these areas to remain consistent each year,” Director Pries said in the Financial Update memorandum. “However, keeping these expenditures at the same dollar level for FY 20-21 will allow departments to accomplish most of their goals and would provide a reduction to the 2019 levy of $225,000.”

Both items in option two along with option one would result in a levy increase of 1.5%, according to the Financial Update document.

It would appear that staff presented the board with other areas of potential savings to arrive at the modest increase of 0.3% Mr. Pries mentioned to eNews Park Forest.

In his last year in office, Mayor John Ostenburg managed a tax levy increase of 0.0%.

Such likely will not be the case this year.

The increases in the property tax levy over the last twenty-seven years have been:

YearTax Levy Increase
199315.1%
199411.4%
199511.7%
19969.8%
19976.7%
19984.8%
19992.9%
2000*2.9%
20012.9%
20022.9%
2003**2.9%
20048.1%
20059.3%
2006*2.6%
20073.3%
20083.0%
20096.0%
20103.1%
20113.4%
20122.7%
2013*1.9%
20141.4%
20152.8%
2016*2.9%
20171.5%
2018*0.0%
20194.26%

* Included a 0% increase in the General Corporate portion of the levy.
** An additional 3% loss factor was added to the 2003 levy.

The levy will be decided at an upcoming board meeting with the discussion happening publicly.